September 6, 2009 by readlisaread
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the numbers of years I’ve been in public ed, maybe it’s just that I’ve become inured enough to the “system” that I now question policy I disagree with. Whatever the reason, here is my longest-running *beef*.
One of the things I feel passionately about teaching to kids is Ethics. I work in a Middle School. 12, 13 and 14 year olds are more than capable of understanding, and practicing, ethical behaviour, beyond the basics of “right and wrong”. Aside from the fact that blocking YouTube and FaceBook and Yahoo causes me some inconvenience (embedded YouTube clips in my Moodle pages won’t play, kids can’t use Yahoo search or Answer pages….etc….) I have a bigger grievance with this practice. I talk to my students about topics like Identity Theft, protecting digital privacy, and CyberBullying. It would make so much sense to pull up a site (like FaceBook) and go over things like the TOU and EULA. For example, I had a number of grade 7’s last year who had FaceBook accounts. Even ones who were younger than 13 (FaceBook’s minimum age). A valuable discussion to have….not possible with the site blocked.
I also talked to my students about what it means to have a work ethic, and how to use good judgment in viewing Internet content, what and when certain things are appropriate….no real examples can be given.
The beautiful irony is, of course, my students all know how to use proxies (or Ninjas) to bypass the network blocks. They try to get me to use them too, because they know how frustrated I get, but that is the only lesson in ethicacy I have left: “I won’t purposely bypass the filters, because we are not supposed to be accessing those sites, that’s why they’re blocked”. Ending with a sarcastic: “I’m sure we can find some real rad videos on Teacher Tube, though, guys!!!!!”
At Educational Technology.ca, Dr. Alex Couros recently wrote a blog on this topic, where he has approached the dilemma from quite the opposite direction. Maybe I need to adjust my attitude on this one….
Update: here is an excellent read on this topic: http://www.evenfromhere.org/?p=1072&cpage=1#comment-150
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