Tech tattled on touchy teacher talk.

For a couple of years now, schools in Japan have been adopting the Giga School program in which textbooks are replaced by a single tablet device for each student. My daughter even has one, and it’s pretty slick. For example, she can use it to record reading or music practice at home and upload it to her teacher.

But with new technology comes the potential for new problems. This is something a junior high school in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, learned the hard way.

According to the city’s Board of Education, on 31 October a teacher noticed that several students had left their tablets behind on their desks. The teacher collected them and placed them in a desk in the teachers’ room for safekeeping.

However, unbeknownst to the teacher one of the tablets also had its recording function left on. This was especially unfortunate because at that same time a group of teachers started dishing to each other about how they really felt about some of the students.

The next day, the teacher returned the tablets to the students, still completely unaware that one of them had been recording the day before. It is unclear whether the recording was intentional or accidental and what exactly was said, but it must have been juicy because after finding the recording the student began sending it to classmates.

After word got out, one of the students mentioned in the audio stopped attending school from the beginning of the month and a teacher whose voice was on the recording took a leave of absence. School officials went to the homes of all students who had a copy of the recording or whose names were mentioned in it and apologized.

The head of the Board of Education also apologized in a press conference. “We are very sorry to cause anxiety to children, teachers, and the community,” he said, “We will provide thorough training on the proper use of the tablets and help teachers to mind their behavior more.”

However, readers of the news online were divided over who was really to blame for this incident.

“What could that teacher have said to make them stop coming in to work?”
“The staff can’t even let their guard down for a moment.”
“A teacher who would say something so bad in casual conversation has something seriously wrong anyway.”
“I don’t know why the Board is apologizing. Clearly, the student did this on purpose.”
“Forget the recording. If the teachers are having conversations that’d make students stop going to school, that’s the problem.”
“If those walls could talk…”
“It’s not like the students don’t also badmouth the teachers behind their backs.”
“The kid who recorded it and spread it is the problem. Talking behind people’s backs is just natural.”
“Replace all teachers with AI.”

I’m not so sure about that last comment since even AI has been known to get a little sassy at times. But this incident does bring to light that maybe the working conditions of teachers needs improvement so they don’t feel like letting off steam in such a way.

Source: NHK News Web, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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