Andy asks a very good question: Do Internet Filters Undermine the Teaching of 21st Century Citizenship?
By that, I don’t mean citizenship in terms of who has the right to vote. Instead, I was thinking of what’s sometimes referred to as active citizenship. This is the idea that we all have a role to play in improving the quality of life in our communities, whether through public service, charity, volunteering, civic participation, etc. We all possess the potential for creating valuable civic capital through our own good deeds, so the more we can do in our communities, the better off they’ll become.
He points out that a growing part of the perpetual presidential campaign and other civil discourse is being played out on Web 2.0 sites, URLs that more and more schools are choosing to block.
On Monday CNN will present a “debate” among the Democratic candidates using questions uploaded to YouTube. They’ll do the same for the Republicans in September.
If school were in session, none of our high school students would be able to view and discuss the videos submitted much less have the opportunity to upload their own.
Many of the candidates are posting their own videos to YouTube and establish pages on MySpace and Facebook as ways to reach younger voters or soon to be voters.
In our high schools, and I suspect many others, teachers would be blocked from using these resources to help students learn about how the new tools are affecting the political process.
Andy’s right that it boils down to trust.
Most politicians and many school administrators don’t trust the professional judgement of educators to select the materials that will best fit with what their students need to learn.
Beyond that, however, I think there’s also the issue of teachers themselves not advancing their own learning.
I hate to say it of my colleagues, but I believe that a large number of educators are afraid of this stuff, both the web and the perceived tech skills of their students.
And, as with many fears, it comes from a lack of knowledge, a lack of training.
But now we come full circle since that learning can’t happen if we insist on putting up electronic barriers (ones with many holes in them) in an attempt to keep the real world at bay.