What Does Internet Blocking Suggest to Students?

Kommentieren 17. July 2009

Ich habe heute einen interessanten Artikel zur Frage gefunden, welche Effekte und Implikationen das Blockieren von Seiten und Zugängen in der Schule bzw. von Lehrer/Innen hat. Er ist von Shelly Blake-Plock, einem Education Blogger und Latein- und Geschichtslehrer. Ich habe ihn zufällig bei einer Recherche auf der NECC Seite entdeckt und finde, das er sehr gute Argumente gegen das Blockieren aufführt. Die NECC ist übrigens die wichtigste Messe in den Bereichen “Bildung” und “Digitale Technologien” in den USA. Auf jeden Fall interessant mal vorbeizusurfen und zu schauen, was sich jenseits des Teiches so abspielt und diskutiert wird.

Hier der Artikel:

This morning, a student sent me a link to an article describing the Internet crackdown occurring as official China has ‘prepared’ for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

“Looks like schools aren’t the only place Facebook is blocked,” read the text across my inbox.

As has been reported by Reuters and elsewhere http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090602/wl_nm/us_china_internet, China has attempted to shut down access to social media sites in the lead up to and during the grave anniversary of that day in 1989 when Chinese military opened fire on protesting crowds of Chinese citizens.

Ever since receiving the message this morning, I haven’t been able to help but think about the tendency of those fearful of change to block access to information and free communication.

And as an educator who firmly believes in the right of free and universal access to information, it would be disgraceful to mark this year and not criticize the attempts by Chinese officials to write that ugly chapter out of the history of their country. Likewise it is disgraceful when developed countries celebrate the Chinese ascension as an economic power while casting a blind eye – or a knowing glance – in the direction of the Tiananmen dead.

The attempts by the Chinese government to filter information and to block access to venues which allow for the free spread of ideas and conversation is nothing less than a sign of fear.

But, the Chinese government is hardly alone in fearing the truth. After all, we’ve got our own issues with fear here in the USA.

Like the fear that seeks to stifle the use of social and participatory digital media in schools across this country.

I tread this water carefully, aware of what I am saying. Precisely what I am not suggesting is that the obfuscation of history by the Chinese government is equivalent to schools denying free Internet access to students. What I am saying is that there is a tendency in all of human nature to try to filter or block that which makes one uncomfortable. And I am arguing that ultimately – especially in a free society such as ours here in the US – those filters and blocks will produce more headaches than they will relieve in the short term.

Because, while the means are different, the philosophy bears a resemblance: it tells the user of information that we are scared to death of what you will do if you have access to the truth and the ability to communicate that truth to others.

We hear of the threat of sex, drugs, violence, and profanity on the Internet. We are told that we have a duty to keep students safe. We are told that filtering and blocking is the only way.

But what of educating?

Whatever happened to the notion that teachers are capable of educating their students? Whatever happened to the notion that it was better for a student to learn about the dangers of life among peers in the safety of a classroom led by a trained professional teacher rather than in the darkness of a bedroom alone in the glow of the computer screen?

Our students are going to get the information one way or another. So why do we go out of our way to put them in a position where they can only do it beyond our field of vision?

Filtering and blocking only serve to produce distrust among our students. Filtering and blocking suggest one thing: you are not to be trusted.

For those of you skeptical of the worth of social media to begin with – let alone its value for education – I can only suggest reading up on the work that’s been done throughout the last few years by educators integrating Web 2.0 and social media into their teaching. For these pioneers, filtering and blocking has produced not merely an inconvenience to technological integration, but a block to teaching and learning.

Filtering and blocking suggest that we don’t trust teachers.

Filtering and blocking suggest that we don’t trust students.

And from the point-of-view of students, filtering and blocking suggest that we are scared of what they might find out.

Is that what education should be about?

And so concessions are made. Companies are called in to produce ‘school safe’ proprietary systems that look and feel like the social web, yet are entirely ‘safe’.

Sounds a lot like the Chinese domestic services meant to replace Twitter and the social network. Places, as Reuters observes, which “are carefully monitored for any sign of content deemed subversive”.

The kids understand the difference. They know that we do not trust them.

So long as we continue to block access to the full range of tools available on the Internet, we will continue to do a disservice to our students and children. In the name of safety, we will produce a generation who views us with contempt.

And that itself is in the disservice of democracy.

(Sami Rabieh aus der D21-Geschäftsstelle)