So I’ve been getting tweaked by filters again and the amount of stuff that many schools block and try to keep away from kids and, to a depressingly large extent, teachers as well. I know this is just a repeat of the same basic issues that have been floating around here for a while, but for some reason I’ve been slamming into that wall both technically and intellectually in the past weeks more than usual. Frustrating when it seems to be getting worse instead of better.
At one recent event, I had a couple of hours between my sessions and since the wireless was spotty, one of the school administrators offered up his office and his computer for me to use. “Slow as hell,” he said as he logged me in. He wasn’t kidding. But the worst part was that I really needed to get onto my Gmail account to snag a file and it was, of course, blocked. Google docs, blocked. YouTube, blocked. Webpages came up with photos and videos “x’d” out. Apparently, everyone in the school suffered under the same filter. And the same was true of a school superintendent I spoke with who lamented the fact that his IT staff wouldn’t give him access to YouTube and even Wikipedia.
I swear I wanted to grab them both and shake them and say, “You’ve got to be kidding me! Why do you stand for that?”
I say this all the time, but I truly believe that filters make our kids less safe. They step off the bus into unfiltered worlds with no context for making good decisions about the stuff coming at them. It’s a huge problem. But on some levels, the bigger problem is what we are doing to our teachers. It insults the profession to not at the very least provide desktop overrides for teachers when they bump up against a filtered site. Have a policy in place to deal with incidents where teachers make poor choices if that’s what the concern is.
Seriously, am I missing something? Why is that so hard to implement?
The only way we’re going to get students, or teachers, to master the Web is to let them use it.