Having A School Block Wikipedia Does Not Further The Cause Of Education

from the head-in-the-sand dept

We've heard time and time again that schools refuse to allow Wikipedia citations in papers. That's somewhat understandable. However, what's ridiculous is to go beyond that to the point that some teachers and even entire schools are now blocking Wikipedia entirely from school computers. It's hard to see how this furthers the cause of education. If anything, it does the exact opposite. If the concern is that Wikipedia may not be trustworthy, why not teach students how Wikipedia works, how to improve it and how to think critically before believing any particular source? What's amazing is that people complain about inaccurate info in Wikipedia as a reason it shouldn't be trusted -- but those same people don't seem to try to ban the use of the Encyclopedia Britannica when significant errors are found in it. And, when errors are found in Britannica (which some studies have shown occur just as frequently as in Wikipedia), they remain there. When errors are found in Wikipedia, they quickly get corrected. Again, though, it comes down to learning not to trust any single source as being authoritative -- and teaching kids to be skeptical of any source. Completely banning a source does students a complete disservice. Once they leave the school and encounter Wikipedia on their own, wouldn't it be better if they'd spent some time with a teacher assisting them to understand the pros and cons of Wikipedia so they know how to use it properly on their own?

Filed Under: schools, wikipedia

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  1. identicon
    Deb, 27 Nov 2007 @ 7:41am


    I don't use Wikipedia for the info it has. I use it for the sources it cites.

    For many topics, it provides an excellent base of where to start looking for further info. I recently read an article on operant conditioning and there were over 20 sources cited.

    Then I googled the cited sources and researched who the people were and how they contributed to the research in the field. Once I found people with proper credentials (post grad degrees, peer reviewed work, books published and so on)it was easy to find those books and materials.

    Wikipedia is very useful tool, but again, it is simply one tool in the arsenal of information. When properly applied to further research it can be fantastic. There are often incredible lists of references.

    It's shame the schools don't recognize it for what it is and fear it for what it could be. I found more errors in the Encyclopedia Brittanica's article on OC than I did in Wikipedia's, yet the Encyclopedia was an allowable source.

    That's just sad.

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