wasting bandwidth since 1999

Something Else I Don’t Get

No matter how hard I try, I don’t understand the convoluted way we go about trying to protect kids from… Well I’m not really sure what.

We don’t allow students to post any of their work outside the walls of the school even under the supervision of a teacher.

But when they leave our sphere of influence, we express all kinds of amazement when they let loose with their thoughts, creative and otherwise, that don’t meet our standards.

We strongly discourage schools from posting the names and faces of students in places where someone from outside the walled garden might see them.

Except for those receiving athletic, arts, or other honors in which case their full names, faces, schools, and plenty of other details are printed up in a newspaper that will likely republish it to their web edition.

We work very, very hard to filter and block the real world from the classroom at the same time that students are gaining access to some very powerful communications tools as soon as the bell rings.

I’m sure this rant only applies to us here in the overly-large school district but around here we spend far more time, effort and money on “protecting” kids than we do on educating them.

On doing everything we can to stop kids from connecting with the world beyond the front door instead of helping them learn how to do it right.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for saying exactly what I’ve been saying (to anyone who will listen) for years. As an educational IT professional, I’m in a unique position to attempt to change this, but schools are ruled by fear, so it’s not easy. All it takes is ONE PARENT to complain, and BAM – there’s a new overly restrictive policy. This has to stop. We’re starting an online pilot program, giving each student a netbook. I was asked to find a solution that would block any and all “inappropriate” websites, no matter where the student connected to the Internet. I said no. It hasn’t yet risen to the point where I need to stand my ground, but stand my ground I will if it comes to that. I’m 100% against any form of filtering, blocking, or banning. It’s far better to educate – teach students how to exist safely online – than to attempt to hide them from the world.

    The some goes for banning cellphones from class. Every student now has an Internet capable computer in their pocket that’s as powerful as the desktop computers of 10 years ago. If you would have told a teacher 10 years ago that every kid in his/her classroom could have an Internet capable computer in class, at no expense to the school, they would be overwhelmed with joy…yet today, when that reality has come to pass, we react by banning those very devices. Go figure.

  2. I agree with you– and Tony’s comment. As a teacher it’s the last sentence you wrote that is the problem. I believe that a majority of teachers and admins wouldn’t be so afraid of this idea but we aren’t sure how to “[help] them do it right.” “Right” looks very different to various people- even between teachers (unfortunately….)

    I would love for Tony to be in charge of every district! As a huge supporter of tech in education I’m wondering how to share with teachers concrete “directions” for how to do this right (an impossible task considering it changes every day.) Do we start with students blogging? Social Network? LEARNING HOW TO OPEN A NEW TAB (yes….we’re talking BASICS are missing from most students).

    I think there IS something to be said about private education networks. Not everything a student does in school needs to be available to the public on the internet. A story about a blue duck written in second grade doesn’t need to follow someone into the job market. Many students in elementary and middle schools are too young or too immature to realize the consequences (and maybe benefits too?) of their online personality, so then do teachers need to be “online personality advocates” for their students? (well…really parents should be doing that…..) Where is there a balance between preparing our students for the real, present, and future world- AND maintaining their intellectual property privacy.

    Two things are true: 1) The system has to change. 2)Everyone is afraid of change. (Well.. not everyone..I’m not…)

    So how do we break down the ambiguity and put it into a plan of action?

  3. Lynet H

    I was so excited to stumble on to this site. I am in complete agreement with you all. I feel technology should be embraced. Teachers need to understand that one of the most valuable resources for the technological age we are in are sitting right in front of us. To many students, the idea of using apps to accomplish a goal is already old hat. Teachers need to embrace the technological information our students come to us with to be able to teach them on a level that will keep them engaged in the learning. Instead of dealing with cellphones as if they are a hassle in the classroom, teachers need to use them to their fullest advantage. Using cellphones for interaction on smartboards is just one of the possibilities that this medium of technology has to offer. I think teachers need to look outside of the box in terms of what their students can teach them. In an ideal world, districts and teachers would be given up to date trainings. Why can’t this be done with students as the teachers? Today’s students are much more adept at using technology then most teachers are.

  4. You may have read my blog last week and saw the chaos that occured because we discovered our kids’ facebook pages. The debate among the teachers over what to do about it was telling in itself- some of us wanted to go the educate them route, while others wanted to shut down facebook all together. Every one had an opinion somewhere between the two, and no one had the same opinion. It was a fascinating discussion, but sadly one that ended once it was “taken care of”. In the end nothing changed. I guess in our overly large school district that is all that can happen, but it would be nice to be able to educate our kids instead of punishing/protecting them.

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