Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Knowledge is Power

"Knowledge is power." Sir Francis Bacon

Several phone calls in the evening and in the morning seemed to help allieviate the firewall problem. By 8:50 am today our class sites were up again. How long will it last? I don't know.

This censorship is an issue debated on Twitter, Blogs, and staff rooms across the country.

Safety, yes. But our power is in the ability to recognize value and relevance. How do we teach this if a software filter makes the decisions after a teacher has already deemed the need and relevance? Why is the software the boss? Why does it take the time of an email to list the sites and then the efforts to unbug them from the filter in order to use the knowledge at the site?

I appreciate the quickness with which our IT Department responded to remediate the filter's overzealousness. "Block the Bad; Guard the Good." If Google can find 1,000,000+ sites in .2 seconds, surely a filter could be more responsive to the realities of appropriate sites rather than simply block everything.

"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let's opt for more teacher input and "guarding the good." Students deserve the right to learn how to search, how to decide, how to ignore, and how to choose, use, or refuse the information.

"More affluent students will have the privilege of ditching the newly censored school computers for their less restricted ones at home, while the less fortunate will likely be stuck in a frustrating and quite discriminatory situation," said Jess Pinkham, a senior at Stuyvesant High School. "This is a blatant violation of one of the initial intentions of the Internet, to provide accessible information to everyone."

How will we help our students prepare for the 21st Century if we block first?

"Knowledge is power." Sir Francis Bacon

Let's not add to the digital divide or multiply the problems of remoteness by subtracting relevant sites from student access.

Thank goodness our ESD responds quickly. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.