Conversations continue about schools that block access to the blogosphere. I ran across an interesting comment last night, in my end of the day aggregator scan. It was in a blog post by Wesley Fryer (Censored for Relevance – April 11, 2006), that he said, “Are we living in the United States here, or totalitarian China?”
There are distinct differences between censorship in China and censorship in the U.S. In China, it is the government that is in a position of power, whereas, in the U.S. it is individuals and the mobs that they form that owns the power. But Fryer’s statement, I believe, is still a fair association. In both cases, censorship happens from the government’s fear of the people. China fears access to information that empowers people to challenge their authority. In the U.S. we fear challenge to the government’s ethicacy.
But the pivot point is not politics. It’s in the desperate belief that we can contain the information. It’s in our gatekeeper insistence that the information we do not want our children to have can be put on the highest shelves, hidden in the back of a closet, hidden within a brown paper wrapper, or rejected by editors and librarians,
The awful shame of it is that we have, as a result, convinced our children that their information is safe inside of their containers. Find your child’s MySpace writings and then question them. They will say, “That wasn’t for you.” “What are you doing in my space?” “How did you find that?” “How did you get there?” “I thought I was protected.” “I thought my information was containered for me and my friends.”
Because we still treat information as something that we can hide behind a wall, and we continue to teach that way to our children, they do not realize the dangers that their information represents to their personal safety and future well being.
Perhaps, we should stop thinking about the problem as something that we can cut off, like amputating a gangrenous arm. Instead, why not think of it as something that is integral to our culture — and treat it. What might we do to introduce a virus into MySpace.
“Ok students. This year, I’m going to be reading your MySpace writings and introducing topics that you write about in your space with our classroom discussions. We’ll use your information to learn.”
Posted later in the day
My final suggestion had an element of tongue in cheek, because the students would certainly find a way to evade our interest. This fact was just brought to my attention in Andy Carvin’s blog, LearningÃ¢â‚¬Â¢Now, as he (MySpace Is Just So Last Year) points us to a story in the Witchata Eagle, describing how students are finding alternative social spaces. Carvin also, in another post (New Federal Legislation Would Ban Online Social Networks in Schools & Libraries), brings to our attention, a new bill being introduced in congress to force blocking of any social network web server for schools and libraries that are subsidized by federal dollars. GIVE ME A BREAK!
Giuli@, “So Here We Are.” Giuli@’s Photostream. May 2, 2006. 11 May 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/giulia_rossa/139146844/>.
Travelinlibrarian, “Leid Public Library.” Travelinlibrarian’s Photostream. May 10, 2006. 11 May 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/travelinlibrarian/144280510/>.