Bringing Back the Isolation Booth

Well, this one slipped by me.

It seems that the AP World History teachers at one of the high schools here in our overly-large school district have banned students from using anything they find on the internet in their work.

Along with thoughts and ideas from pretty much any living source.

“You are only allowed to use your OWN knowledge, your OWN class notes, class handouts, your OWN class homework, or The Earth and Its Peoples textbook to complete assignments and assessments UNLESS specifically informed otherwise by your instructor.”

That was not all. Students could not use anything they found on the Internet. They were not permitted even to discuss their assignments with friends, classmates, neighbors, parents, relatives or siblings.

What about complete strangers? The teachers had thought of that. “You may not discuss/mention/chat/hand signal/smoke signal/Facebook/IM/text/email to a complete stranger ANY answers/ideas/questions/thoughts/opinions/hints/instructions.” The words were playful, but the teachers were serious. Any violations, they said, would mean a zero on the assignment and an honor code referral.

Our school board says that our students will learn to “Effectively use technology to access, communicate, and apply knowledge and to foster creativity.” Not to mention all that stuff about learning to work collaboratively.

In these classes access is limited to what’s delivered on paper and any communication or collaboration at all will get you the academic equivalent of the death penalty.

This attitude takes the traditional role of teacher-as-sole-arbiter-of-knowledge and injects it with steroids.

None of this, however, is at all surprising considering the intense paranoia over plagiarism in our schools.

But these days is there any value in an assignment that requires students to work completely in isolation? Was there ever?

Thanks to @jonbecker for tweeting this to my attention.

One thought on “Bringing Back the Isolation Booth

  • October 23, 2010 at 9:28 am
    Permalink

    I have no words – they just don’t get it do they?

    Reply

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