The Internets Are Evil

I swear, whatever non-teaching educational professionals say about the importance of technology, that is their true belief. As evidence of web-o-phobia, consider some of the sites blocked by my district’s internet filter.

But first, I wonder why we need a filter in the first place. At least at my school, the students never have unsupervised access to the internet. Why not just trust the judgment of the teachers to decide in each individual case what sites are proper or not? Sure, some sites would never be appropriate. There’d never be a legitimate educational purpose for sites with nekkid women, obviously. But filters often eliminate the good with the bad.

For instance, in my speech and debate class, the students are currently preparing descriptive speeches. I let them pick their own topics, hoping that would make the whole process more interesting for them. A few of the guys in the class – who usually make little or no effort at any kind of learning – were excited about doing speeches about their favorite sports teams. After securing through begging and bartering a coveted spot in the school’s one computer lab, we headed over there to do some research. Sadly, the sports fans’ excitement soon turned to disappointment and frustration because they discovered that nearly every sports related site – the ones with the information they needed for their speeches – was blocked by the filter. In other words, some off site office dwelling egg head decided ex ante that there could never be any legitimate educational use for a sports web site. That prejudice cost my class excited students and good speeches.

I had a similar incident with the school social studies fair. A few thugs in training wanted to do their papers about “drugs.” I helped them fine tune their idea to a paper on the legalization of marijuana. I thought this made everyone a winner. They had a topic they found interesting and I had an opportunity to help normally reluctant students learn to think critically. Alas, the filter prevented all that. While it’s fine for law enforcement officers to come to the school to tell impressionable young minds that all drugs are bad all the time, when those same minds want to think for themselves they are barred by the filter from turning to the internet and seeking a different opinion from law enforcement. LEAP wasn’t the only site banned. Enough were that they could not do the project at school. And for these kids, that meant they could not do it at all.

There’s other ridiculous stories. YouTube has no value. At one time even the school website was blocked. A petition by the AFA to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage is blocked as “hate speech.”

I know, I know, this is all someone else’s fault and there’s nothing we can do and if you just fill out the proper request form in triplicate and submit it a week before you need the site it might be allowed and one computer might have access to it for ten minutes on the the second Tuesday of the month. And we have to save the children. I just really wish the bureaucrats would trust teachers to be teachers. I don’t need a an absentee busy body big brother to make decisions for me about how to best educate my students. I’m supposed to be a professional. Let me be one.

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