Thursday, March 31, 2005

So blogging is not educational?

I almost had to read this article twice because I had such a hard time believing a bunch of educators could be so clueless. From the The Rutland Herald:

Officials at Proctor Jr.-Sr. High School have banned access from school computers to an Internet site that students have been using to post to weblogs, or blogs.

Principal Chris Sousa said the decision to block the site from school was made because blogging is not an educational use of school computers.

Not educational? My kids' teachers were all over them to write essays and keep journals. Anything that involved stretching their imaginations while practicing their vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills was great. And suddenly that kind of writing isn't educational?

Sousa said he found the prospect of students putting information on the Internet, potentially available to predators, was a serious concern.

"As soon as someone has a name and a general geographic location, it can take an Internet predator 20 minutes to find their address and directions to their house," he said. "Any time a teen puts their own photo or biographical information on a Web site, it's something that parents at least need to know about."

Yes, of course. But shouldn't the teachers be monitoring these kids who are blogging at school on school computers? And how difficult would it be to call an annual assembly to caution kids about sharing personal information -- not thoughts and feelings, but names, ages, and hometowns -- on the internet? And would it be so hard to send home an occasional letter to the parents so they could remind their kids about the dangers of getting personal on the internet?

Blogging is cool and the kids at Proctor High School know it. And since they're so eager to blog, wouldn't it be smart to take some reasonable precautions and then channel all that youthful energy and enthusiasm into a great educational experience?

This school's leaders are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. And I've got news for them: blocking access from school computers to a single "get a free blog" website -- myspace -- won't stop the kids from signing up elsewhere. Like right here at Blogger, for instance.

"We have been doing our best to balance responsible use of technology with responsible guidelines around educational practices," Sousa said. "To that end, we frequently check student accounts and monitor network use by everyone in the building."

Well, that's excellent, Principal Sousa. Sounds like you're doing a bang-up job. So why not let the kids blog? You're missing a wonderful opportunity to teach them how to guard their personal information in the internet age. And wouldn't you like to see them expand their horizons with a little creative writing?


tristan coulter said...

Sounds like the work of a couple of paranoid lawyers trying to keep the district’s hands clean in case some dumb kid would post his/her personal information while at school. Also, the blogs of kids can be and often are extremely lewd. Maybe they want to prevent the kids from being exposed to that stuff while they’re at school. There are a lot of really creepy, inappropriate blogs I’ve come across.

Brenda Coulter said...

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. You know I used to volunteer in the computer lab at your school, but maybe this school doesn't have enough teachers and volunteers to give the kids adequate supervision. What rubbed me the wrong way was this principal's assertion that there is no educational value to blogging. Either that individual is amazingly ignorant or he (she?) was being disingenuous.

Camy Tang said...

You go, Brenda! You're absolutely right. I mean, how many high school English teachers are DYING to get their students to write? Helloooooo???? My mom was one of those high school English teachers. I'll bet the principal has never taught ninth grade English composition. :)