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
    Brian Carnell, 27 Nov 2007 @ 2:03pm

    Riiight

    @6 wrote:

    "If you want reliable information, read peer-reviewed established scholarly journals. That's what teachers should be emphasizing: how to do real research, and not summarize encyclopedias (of any kind). Of course, even they may not know how to do that."

    So if I want to teach my daughter about influenza, rather than point her to the Britannica entry about the disease or Wikipedia's informative article on it, I should tell her to go track down some peer reviewed articles in Nature or The Journal of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Infectious?

    Clearly written by someone who him or herself never actually reads peer reviewed journals. This is horrible advice.

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