Monday, January 21, 2013

Twitter as the new petition...

The overthrow of governments. Coup d'états. Revolutions. Coups. Takeovers. Turnovers. Upheavals.

All of the aforementioned events have occurred throughout history in each and every nation state, people group, culture, society. Each has begun with some type of uneasiness, discomfort, displeasure, anger, and even malice on the part of one party toward another. As societies have attempted to become more civilized; we have instituted silent protests, sit-ins, pickets, and even written petitions in the place of violent mutinies. Perhaps, the most used form of peaceful protest in modern society is the petition. I have been approached on a number of occasions over the last 15 years to scribble my "John Hancock" on a piece of paper for one reason or another. Whether it is legal, spiritual, political, or even social… these petitions have a way of expressing solidarity in getting one group’s point across.

However, in recent years, we have seen a more digitalized form of the petition. The “Arab Spring” of 2011 and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement/protests in the fall of the same year each began with individuals who were displeased and started to opine through social media, thus enlisting thousands in the form of an “online petition.” You see, the very term “petition” is defined by Webster as “an urgent request.” In both of the historical instances referenced above, there were groups of people who had urgent requests. The communication of the requests was expedited through social media mediums such as twitter. How does this impact education?

Recently, I had students who wanted to change our dress code for a day. These students began to overflow our school’s twitter feed with mention after mention, requesting for their idea to be considered by me and my fellow administrators. Because of the respectful manner in which our students went about their request, we granted them their wish of rearranging the dress code for a day.

Are we to teach historical protests in school? Are we to impart civics? Are we to instill the principles of the first amendment to the United States constitution?I believe we are to do all three. If you agree, then let’s start with integrating social media into today’s schools. Just as protests have evolved over time and throughout history, the very use of the petition is now evolving before our very eyes. Instead of starting a written petition and waiting until the paper copy of the petition has traveled from door to door, individuals now have the power to instantaneously make an urgent request , share it with others, and have the request spread exponentially. If our students are going to go about petitioning in a respectful and peaceful manner, then we must acknowledge this phenomenon, embrace it, and facilitate it with our digital natives and millenials.

What do you think? Do you agree that the way we petition is changing? What are some ways you see the change of the petition take place? How else is the petition changing?


  1. Yes! ...just wait till more of our students - especially at-risk students - learn the positive impact social media can have. I whole-heartedly believe this is the persuasive tool of the immediate future. Simply put, Twitter, as a platform for petitions, helps to eliminate the barriers previously obstructing the youth from being "heard."

    Furthermore, I know @metroschools has recently updated their social media policy, taking steps towards integrating 21st century technology with 21st century skills.

    1. Very true Ryan. Anyone. And... I mena anyone has a voice now that technology has the potential to be in the hands of anyone who desires it. I am glad to hear of the advances that @metroschools has made. Thanks for sharing.


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