Steven Cohen e-mailed me this link to a story in the Rutland (VT) Herald about a jr/sr high school principal who has banned access to Myspace.com, a blogging site. The reason? Well aside from legitimate concerns about kids publishing personal information, the prinicpal says blogging is not an educational use of computers.
Um, I beg to differ. And if anything, this seems to be what they call a TEACHABLE MOMENT. Let’s see…we have some kids who are doing what tens of thousands of other kids are doing out there, writing about their lives in a public space. Good for the school for monitoring what the kids are doing there and realizing they aren’t necessarily being smart in the way they are doing it. Bad for the school for thinking that denying access will teach them the lesson they need to learn.
Instead, the principal urges parents to check history files and cookies on the computers that their children are using. Oy. This reminds me of Seymour Pappert last week at CoSN when he was talking about the initial reaction of parents in Maine when they announced the 1 to 1 laptop initiative. Many of them said things along the lines of “they’re just going to go to porn sites and play games.” Pappert, who was one of the major players in the project, responded by saying “But that has nothing to do with giving them the technology. What is it about your children that would make you think they would do that?” Amen.
It’s easy to check the history and cookies. It’s easy to ban sites that kids are going to find ways to access anyway. What’s hard is modeling and teaching appropriate use. That is the only way we’re going to help kids protect themselves from the dark side of the Internet.
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