In the comments to my post last week about the wholesale blocking of blogging sites by schools, two visitors left long, thoughtful notes to let me know just how full of crap I am. (At least Patrick knows to compliment the host before letting fly. :-)
Both commentaries criticized me for taking what they saw as a very simplistic view of the situation, that we cannot allow students to have “unfiltered access to adult spaces” when there are many disciplinary and legal issues involved for schools, teachers and administrators.
I’ve never been a fan of internet filters, mostly because they don’t work and tend to offer teachers and parents a false sense of security. But as I’ve said before, they are necessary to catch the really bad stuff.
Most blogs, though, are not the really bad stuff. They represent the thoughts and ideas – of all stripes – that used to be expressed primarily in limited communications. Now these conversations are open for all to participate. Welcome to life in the 21st century.
However, there’s a bigger problem here: the structure of the American education system as a whole, something I rant about regularly. And Miguel, in the response posted on his blog, offers a quote which supports that very point.
It may be that the reason there is less use of technology for instructional purposes by the nation’s K-12 teachers is not resistance to change or lack of teacher training. The root cause may indeed be the inappropriateness of trying to layer technology on top of an obsolete education system.
Source: Email message on WWWEDU by Dr. Patrick Greene, Florida Gulf Coast University
An idea that is expressed even better by David Warlick:
No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.
The basic structure of our system for teaching and learning has not really changed in more than half a century. In blocking blog sites, schools are just doing what they’ve always done. Educational institutions are organized to maintain an island of academia separated as much as possible from the real world.
So, while I certainly understand the realities of what schools face on a day to day basis, in this virtual space I get to advocate for the way I think things should be. And, in response to the challenge posed by both Patrick and Miguel, the only way to change an intrenched institution like education, is to work from the inside. Please don’t think I’m not doing just that.
As a sidenote, I’d like to thank Miguel, not just for the criticism (I really do appreciate feedback of all kinds) but for his post Brief Guide to Starting with Linux that I found while exploring his site. Just the information I’ve been looking for. Ain’t the web great? :-)