Teacher Tributes Make For A Feel-Good Facebook Story!

What with all its nasty groups and mean privacy violations and inconsistent censorship policies, we've been mad at Facebook lately. And then the NYT goes and reminds us it can be a force for good!

Apparently, people have taken to tracking down their old (you know, former - although considering some of the graduation years quoted I guess a number of them might be elderly, too) teachers on Facebook, to tell them how much they meant. Says the piece, "On Facebook walls and dedicated tribute pages, the writings betray emotions that students dared not display in their youth. They include moving messages ("You inspired each of us to learn and go beyond what we thought we could achieve"), lighthearted claims on old debts ("You owe us a pool party - you promised us one if the Dow ever reached 3,000") and recollections of specific events ("You got me out of detention one time")."

Then there's a particularly touching story of one retired band teacher whose final illness was brightened by the tributes of his students. It's lovely, and it got us all sentimental and eager to reconnect with old teachers, "To Sir, With Love" style...except that none of them are on Facebook. Okay, that's not strictly true: I found an old middle-school science teacher, but I got a D in his class and wasn't that into reanimating the acquaintance.

(Then I started worrying that the piece would inspire other readers...to mischief and revenge. As we know, FB can be used for evil, and teachers, in their careers, make a lot of enemies. Remember that 1982 detention? Here's a barrage of baby pictures! The low test grade? Ha! Take this hilarious internet meme littered with animated puppy gifs! How you like them apples? For the crime of keeping me out of that 1991 semifinals match, you're going to have to hear about my macrobiotic diet...until you figure out blocking.)

If, like me, you find your teachers aren't, inexplicably, involved in the world of social networking, heed the sweet anecdote of one teacher who hadn't heard of Facebook...until he learned of his 400-strong former student fan club. There are worse introductions. And in case you doubt the effectiveness of such a tribute, here's one Brooklyn math teacher: "I think it's amazing; it's a great feeling...How they make you feel that you were so important in their lives - it makes everything worthwhile."

On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Meant [NY Times]