Isn't it great that our high schools are teaching students to fear new things? It's nothing new, of course. When I was in high school, there was a minor controversy over the fact that Walkmans were banned from the school. The principal declared that it was the biggest threat facing our education -- despite the very real drug problem and disturbing weapons problem (this was before metal detectors were common on school grounds) students faced. So, the talk last week about schools banning iPods didn't seem all that new. It's just the same thing, updated for a new technology. Ignore the real problem (drugs and weapons are still making their way into schools) and focus on something that's easy to spot: white headphones. However, sometimes this fear of the "new" goes to bizarre extremes. While it's not quite as bad as the various headlines and coverage suggest, there is a school in New Jersey that seems to fear blogging. The headline claims that the school has "banned blogging," but it's really just blocking a particular blogging site (not named). The problem is the reasoning: "blogging is not an educational use of school computers." While the importance of "blogging" specifically is overhyped, teaching students how to better use technology to communicate is an important skill -- and one that blogging does provide. The fact that a blogging site is banned from the school won't stop the kids from blogging -- but it does make the whole activity that much more enticing for them, without any supervision. If the school were smart, it would be encouraging blogging, while teaching kids to understand both the risks and the benefits of communicating online. Instead, the lesson the kids are learning is that pretending something doesn't exist or isn't "educational" is the proper way to react to something you don't understand.
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