Sad news this week with the death of one of our students. Her death and her illness aren't what I want to blog about however. What I want to talk about is how the students at school found out about it and are dealing with their grief.
I was talking to a group of my year 7 students - and one of the questions they had for me was "Have you ever lost a close friend?" When I said yes that one of my friends had died when I was in Year 11, they then asked how long it takes to 'feel better' (my words as I can't remember the exact wording). When I was explaining to them what had happened to my friend and how I found out their faces were unbelieving. At first I thought it was because of the way my friend died, but as we talked more it dawned on me they were surprised about how I found out. I found out thru a news report on the local radio - and then had to wait at school as all my friends arrived to see who it wasn't/was.
They were surprised that I didn't know before I went to school.
They were surprised that I had to wait for people to arrive at school to find out who had died.
They had the answers to all of these questions within hours of our student dying.
I had come face to face with the digital divide.
Finally I had concrete proof that it existed -- that it wasn't just something that people write about to get their name up in lights.
Whereas my friends and I had to wait and wonder, my students this week knew and started their grieving process.
Whereas my friends and I had to wait for the funeral to say goodbye, my students this week were leaving their messages on a Facebook group -- they started their goodbyes so much earlier than we did.
This is one of the times when we need to say thanks to SMS, Facebook, email etc. Whilst they will never forget their friend, I'm hoping that today's technology will spare them some of the pain that we went through in dealing with our grief.