Appropriate Use vs. banning…

Just read some very insightful reflections from Will Richardson on the issue of net censorship , particularly that of censoring myspace and other blog formats in schools. Richardson makes the point I have been harping on for some time, that being the banning of such technology is not effective nor is it constructive. Instead of outright banning, which only increases the popularity of content and encourages subversion, we should be modelling appropriate use:

My students would be safer if we worked hard to provide our students with some context for their actions and gave them some tools for making good decisions about what and what not to publish. They’d be safer if we educated parents to help them understand what their children are doing and how they can counsel them. They’d be safer if every teacher and administrator and staff member were modelling the benefits of publishing online. ( “In the Blog House? accessed Nov.12,05)

Modelling appropriate use is exactly that. What do we model when we ban myspace.com from the learning institute; intolerance and a lack of willingness to understand and accept a medium that is obviously effective in its’ delivery (this is demonstrated by the sheer numbers of people, mostly children under the age of 18, who are using this tech.). This is reactionary and authoritarian in approach. In banning we close the door on a rich medium that could help reinforce and demonstrate learning. As Richardson points out, the act of banning myspace.com from school is ludicrous if it is done for the reason of ‘protection:’ “But, really, how would my students be safer should my school cut access to myspace.com? What about the 17 hours of the day when they’re not with us? The act teaches nothing other than as educators we don’t have the imagination or the gumption to deal with this issue? ( “In the Blog House? accessed Nov.12,05) (Richardson also goes on to reflect on his own children and the real issues they face…this is great stuff, I would encourage you to check it out!). Banning teaches nothing other than close mindedness. How about teaching the appropriate way to use such technology. If this is in fact a move to protect children, then we should teach them how to protect themselves.

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