The Spinning Wheel Effect

I’ve been reminded lately about the story of Sleeping Beauty. You know the one… evil fairy casts a curse over a baby princess resulting in a dramatic 21st birthday at which she’ll prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall asleep until a prince can rescue her. Here’s a great animated version here:

In their wisdom, her parents decide to rid the land of all of the spinning wheels to ensure Sleeping Beauty’s safety. Inevitably, on her aforementioned birthday, she went looking. She found a spinning wheel, pricked her finger and fell asleep.

It all leads me to this question – What if?

What if her parents had educated her about the spinning wheel, helped her to gain competencies in spinning-wheel skills, assisted her in navigating everything ‘spinning-wheel’? Heaven forbid, what if they had actually told her the truth about spinning-wheels?

Now replace ‘Spinning-wheel’ with ‘social-media’. What if we educate our students in social media, we help them gain competencies in it, we assist them in navigating and using social media? What if we tell our students the truth about social media?

Isn’t it the truth that we love it? Can’t get enough of it? Love to hate it?

Isn’t it the truth that we judge people by it? Choose to keep or lose connections by it?

Isn’t it the truth that we use it when we’re bored? Needy? Procrastinating?

Isn’t it true that we use it as a form of procrastination?

I was inspired this week by a keynote by Jason Ohler ( He spoke about how he asks his students to ‘google’ themselves in order to discover their online persona. Then he asks them “Do you like what you see?” and “Is this how you want people to know you?” Then… and only then… he helps them to fix it up. Just like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty.

My first thought was ‘I want to do that’. However, my students (year 5/6) don’t really have an online presence yet.* And then my eyes were opened. Perhaps I could do what the parents should have done in the Sleeping Beauty story. Perhaps I could help them gain competencies in Social Media. Perhaps I could show them examples of a positive online presence and get them to make a projected Facebook/Twitter page.

I knew my students needed a social media hero. There could only be one. Me. This would prove to be one of the scariest days of my teaching career.

I showed my students what happens when I google ‘Chantelle Morrison’. Then, I showed them my Twitter page. And my Facebook page (insert racing heart-beat sound here).

We discussed them. Out loud. I asked them ” Would you be happy if this was your online presence?”.  They asked me “Are you happy that this is your online presence?”. We discussed what could be improved/added/changed/deleted. Wowsers. Their resounding response was that my online profile was fine. For me. And I was happy with that.

Students then made their own fake pages on blank templates  – a prediction of what they would like their pages to look like when they do get an online presence. Check out these 2 examples:

Happy with that.***

* They think we don’t know that they use pseudonyms to create Facebook accounts;)

** Who taught them to use pseudonyms?… I did. But not for that purpose.

*** Perhaps I could ‘time-capsule these for 2 years time and compare.


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