wasting bandwidth since 1999

The Community of Digital Censorship

Last week I did a lot of ranting about digital censorship, especially the asinine random “filtering” system now being used by our overly-large bureaucracy.

But I wasn’t alone.

Karl wrote several good entries about the new blocking system at his school. He and Miguel also offered some insightful commentary on related posts by a number of other edubloggers.

In the category of “I wish I’d said that”, Doug wrote a very pointed open letter to those who would go overboard in their restrictions on intellectual freedom.

Like me, Taylor the Teacher is also upset with the new filtering system just switched on by his school district, comparing it favorably (unfavorably?) to censorship by the Chinese government.

Diane found not a little irony in all this discussion of digital censorship in schools since that same week the American Library Association was marking their annual Banned Books Week.

She also offers a great quote from the ALA’s Freedom to Read statement.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad.

And that is pretty much the fundamental point of all this. By the arbitrary blocking of material on the web, we do nothing to help our “ordinary individuals” (aka students) learn how to develop their critical judgement.

By the way, our district has in place a system by which an adult can request that a site be unblocked (or blocked). It would be nice, however, if it actually worked.

It’s been more than a week since I submitted (and the boss approved) a request to unblock certain sites in our central office building (one where everyone is over 21).

No response.

I still need to use an unauthorized work-around to read the ideas of certain subversive educators. Not to mention my own crap.

Unfortunately, to be continued.

school, web filter, censorship

3 Comments

  1. diane

    Tim,

    I asked my high school Current Events students how they felt about filtering and censorship (after giving them some information about CIPA). The consensus seemed to be that it was O.K. for schools to block pornography and to limit access for younger students, but that teenagers should have more freedom and independence.

    Yet another irony: when I searched online for more filtering information to present in class, a goodly number of the sites that came up – on Clusty, Ask, Answers, etc.- offered step-by-step instructions on how to circumvent school filters and firewalls.

    diane

  2. Taylor

    Diane- thanks for saying that. I’ve tried to point out that educating them is the only choice because there are way too many hackers etc. out there for IT dept. to ever keep up.

    Tim- I had a real problem with Banned Books Week. They’re proud of themselves for finally catching on to Huck Finn while Ginsberg’s “Howl” still can’t be read on the radio and public schools everywhere lock down Internet access?

    There comes a point in the life of every institution where it’s just serving its own interests.

  3. Taylor

    And I forgot to mention students getting suspended for things they write on personal blogs at home!

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