State of the Union: Twittering Lawmakers

February 25, 2009 1 min read

There’s been a lot of debate about the role of personal technologies in schools, particularly cell phones and text devices. Schools generally try to prohibit students from phoning and texting when they are supposed to be listening in class.

So what kind of role models are these lawmakers who were Twittering during President Obama’s State of the Union address?

Dana Milbank’s columns in The Washington Post are always entertaining, and offer unique insights into the inner workings of Congress. Today’s piece is a commentary on lawmakers’ preoccupation with the 140-character messages they were sending to their “followers” on Twitter, questioning their attentiveness to the task at hand.

“It’s bad enough that Americans are paralyzed by economic jitters. Now the president has to deal with lawmakers paralyzed by Twitter,” Milbank writes. “At a time of national emergency, when America needs the focused attention of contemplative and reflective lawmakers, they are dispatching rapid-fire thoughts in 140 characters or less.”

Teachers often have a similar take on their students’ obsession with texting and talking with friends when they should be focused on a more critical concern: learning. Students will tell you they can do both, simultaneously.

I wonder if we gave those twittering lawmakers a quiz on last night’s speech right after it ended if they would pass it.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.