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
    Thinking Logicaly, 27 Nov 2007 @ 9:27am

    You really need to step back and look at it all.

    On one hand, you have the people who think Wikipedia is the greatest in the world, and on the other, you have people who think that Wikipedia is the Devil's book.

    The fact of the matter is is that Wikipedia is there. It is ment to be a collection of information from people. Not some self proclaimed expert.

    It would be like gathering 10 million people and asking all of them some questions on one subject. Not all of the information would be right, and some of it would be right.

    Children at a young age should be taught to be able to differ right from wrong. If one artical states that a black labrador is 20 feet tall, weighs 500 tons, is purple, and has 5 tails, I should hope that a child could be able to know that that was wrong. How can they learn the difference if they are only ever shown one thing.

    However, they should also be taught that Wiki cannot be used as a substitute as 3+ sources.

    I believe that, when used at the right time for the right purposes, Wikipedia can be a good source.

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