January 24, 2010 by readlisaread
I remember watching TED videos at staff meetings– especially the Sir Ken
one about how schools are killing creativity in children, and one of the versions of “Shift Happens“. We have 3 SMARTboards in the school, a website that is updated once in awhile, and the Look of a school embracing technology, what with 2 30-station labs and a couple of dozen laptops.
I figure at this point, about 40% of the Internet is blocked, however. Why? All because of FaceBook. In a classic example of One Step Forward, two back, we embraced the Internet and web-based instruction– we have Moodle pages and email, a big screen to show movies in the gym…. we are digital, Man. Or, well, we would be, if not for the root of all things evil, FaceBook.
The way I figure it, the Prince goes to meetings or conferences, hears some snippet of a conversation or presentation (he’s far too ADHD to actually listen to the whole thing) and comes back and Makes It So. Hearing and then deciding that FaceBook is a huge time-waster (it is) with major concerns with regards to privacy (there are) it was decided that all things FaceBook shall be blocked. Unfortunately for us, we are victims of FB’s success. Clearly the main social networking site on the Web, FaceBook is like a vortex, sucking into itself all other websites who want to be seen by creating FB fan pages or direct bookmarks to share ping backs to their page.
The upshot of all of this is at least 2-fold. I ask my grade 7’s how many of them have FB accounts. About 90% of hands go up. “How did you get a FB account?” I ask. They tell me. They are boastful of the pictures they are tagged in and the number of friends they have. Then I make them all shift nervously in their chairs by asking “What did you do about your birthdate?” Because now they know that I know that they lied about being 13, the minimum age FB allows, according to their TOU. Unfortunately, that’s about the end of the conversation, because I can’t then navigate to FaceBook and show them the agreement they signed and what it means that they lied about their age.
But, as they say on the Infomercials, THAT’S NOT ALL!
The kids, having been raised in the digital age, quickly figured out how to bypass the filters and went underground to find ways to FB at school. Does this reflect on the lack of teacher supervision and lousy ethics on the part of the kids? Sure, but just like locking the liquor cabinet and making it a challenge, kids will find a work-around. So, in the spirit of locking the barn door after the horse ran out (with the keys to the liquor cabinet), the IT geeks keep cranking up the blocks. They are so successful that kids can no longer navigate to FaceBook or YouTube through proxies or secure settings. The filter, in fact, works so well that it blocks ANY site that has a FaceBook link. Including sites like “ABC Science and Technology” and “Sporcle” and really anything that offers a “share this” link to FB anywhere on it.
So on the one hand, I am encouraged and prodded and Professionally Developed to teach these digital natives in ways they will be inspired by and challenged and creatively engaged in…..but at the same time, with a strangle-hold of fear on the toolbox, that they don’t have to think and choose and carefully select amongst the sharp new tools, but use the institutional blunt screwdrivers and rubber mallets.