Banned Books Week? How about Banned Resources Week? Overzealous internet filtering keeps students away from resources in the same way that censorship keeps books out of their hands–that’s the argument of this great post from WNY Education Associates.
No, I don’t want little kids to be exposed to pornography or graphic violence. But isn’t there some kind of happy medium? Take, for example, the website of Dr. Temple Grandin, noted author & speaker on living with autism. She herself is autistic. For no good reason I can see, her website is blocked by at least one widely used internet filter.
A quote from the blog post I linked to above: “I would guess that engaging in mythical battles allows us to construct all sorts of impressive armor.” Wholesale internet filtering gives people a toasty, safe, St. George kind of feeling, as if they’ve slain the dragons of privacy invasion, online predation, and dangerously different ideas. But if all sites with any kind of chat or social interaction are banned, how do students learn to protect personal information? Kids who are never taught to think about their online profiles are the ones who will lose out on job opportunities when potential employers view ill-considered posts or compromising photos. If students are banned from e-mail at school, who teaches them what to do with the unlovely spam they get? And if teachers, counselors, and administrators can’t access Facebook or other social sites from school computers, how will they even know if cyberbullying, suicidal intentions, or threats of violence or have been posted by their students?
As Angela points out, the sense of security is a false one, anyway. If you’re never taught to recognize danger, you won’t know it when you see it.
Here’s a great quote from a fantasy novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. Her novels have nothing to do with internet filtering, but the words are right on target nonetheless: innocence based in ignorance is unfit to protect itself.