This unit provides an in depth look at the interplay between losses in privacy and gains in convenience that accompany the ever-expanding use of and reliance on digital media and technology in our lives. The aim of the unit is not to convince students of a specific stance; rather, it is to provide an opportunity for students to look critically at the ways in which privacy’s role in our modern lives has changed and to think about taking intentional action regarding their own use of digital media. Adolescents (and people in general) often engage in activities without fully understanding the consequences or repercussions. By analyzing ways in which the use technology may have a lasting impact on their privacy, students might choose to change their practices or they may realize there is no conflict with their current usage.
The majority of class time during this unit will be committed to discussions of topics that arise from a wide variety of informational and literary texts that delve into the topics of privacy and digital technology in our lives. While there is much current information being published on these topics, the unit also pulls from some historical sources and asks students to consider changes to privacy over previous eras. As the core text, George Orwell’s 1984 provides a solid foundation on issues concerning privacy. This novel elucidates two interrelated aspects of privacy that this unit seeks to develop: first, the internal thoughts that we develop and contemplate without outside influence; and second, the freedom from being observed, accessed, and controlled by outsiders.
Throughout this unit, students will produce short argumentative pieces drawing evidence from the texts read for and discussed in class. Classroom instruction on producing a claim, drawing and citing evidence from a text, and using reasoning to develop a stance will be addressed through lessons in the unit. The short pieces of writing students produce throughout the class will culminate in a final argumentative essay weighing the interplay and value of privacy and convenience in our digital lives.