Education is the key. Leadership is absolutely the key. The leader has to understand why this is important, then advocate to others [on behalf of] the faculty and students that this is about teaching and learning today.
Source: Meg Ormiston
Amen to Meg Ormiston, cited further down in this blog entry. I've shared this perspective in my presentations and communications...unfortunately, who's getting the message to the "leaders?" In listening to the shared experiences of educators constrained by "Network Nazis"--that term that reflects the depth of outright frustration, loathing for individuals' practices who do what they can to lock down the network and computers--it's safe to say that "leaders" in K-12 districts seldom listen to their underlings, in my experience.
And, while Meg Ormiston says "it's a wonder teachers don't just give up," the fact is, some teachers have. In fact, the majority may live their lives never bothering to challenge the status quo. Consider Greg Garner's words here....
To be an educator is to be a liberator. As you expand the vision of another human being, you are releasing them from the restraints that have previously entangled them. Bonds of ignorance. Bonds of prejudice. Bonds of inhumanity. Bonds of mediocrity. There is something that takes place inside the mind of a person learning something new. Previously held notions and ideas melt away; the realization of the existence of something (or someone) else causing scales to fall from our eyes as we see in a new and different light. To be a student is to be in the throes of a rebellion.
You are forced to wrestle and grapple with ideas that are new and foreign to you. Much in the same way your body's immune system fights what is unfamiliar (good or bad), so your mind embarks on a journey of self-discovery, laying itself bare and exposed. New thoughts, new ideas, new worlds grapple with prior experience and prior knowledge. As you begin to glean and absorb these new messages, you find yourself at odds with what previously could not have been more true.
You find yourself in a rebellion. Will you stay and fight with the Old Guard? Or will you challenge yourself and find where your loyalties lie? Will you remain in comfort and safety? Or will you realize that the most dangerous place to be is the status quo? Be liberated and join the rebellion. -- Greg Garner (Source: Buzz)
The problem with this passion isn't that it exists, but that the lack of trust, the established Old Guard do more harm to the students and educators they purport to support. Now, anyone can leave and go somewhere else, finding the job that aligns with their loyalties, that allow one to challenge him/herself to be more than what comfort and safety demand.
But while rebellious educators may get up and leave, where do the low socio-economically disadvantaged children go? Back to their children shelters', back to a life of not so much wondering what life could be like, as to grasping at hope for a life only a little better.
Too many prayers were prayed," Barber said. "Too many lives were sacrificed. Too much blood was shed. Too many tears were shed. We can't turn back now."
Barber's supporters believe the new policy will resegregate schools. They carried signs that read: "Segregate equals hate" and "History is not a mystery. Separate is always unequal." (Source: Rumors of Resegregation in North Carolina)
It would be nice to think that "digital resegregation" was in progress, but the truth is, America's schools are still segregated, still locked down...the rich kids get access to whatever they want at home, the poor to whatever access they can scavenge.
And, in tough economic times, I doubt school teachers are trusted at all with technology to get things done. Of course, they're not trusted by legislators, by the Community to teach children the right way, whatever that is in public schools. . .so why should the technology director and ignorant superintendents allow them any more?
It's Time To Trust Teachers with the Internet: A Conversation with Meg Ormiston -- THE Journal
- It's Time To Trust Teachers with the Internet: A Conversation with Meg Ormiston By Dian Schaffhauser12/01/10
- For Meg Ormiston, it's a wonder sometimes that teachers don't just give up. Restrictive Internet policies in schools, coupled with unresponsive IT departments and beleaguered administrators, present teachers with a nearly impossible situation: They're being pressured to incorporate 21st century teaching and learning into their classrooms, but they're not being allowed to use the tools they need to do that. They're being hamstrung. And so are their students.
- Schools seem simply not to trust teachers, the very individuals they've hired for their training and certification as professionals formally qualified to care for children in a classroom setting.
- if schools by this point can't trust teachers to decide whether a given Web site is appropriate for their students, how can they trust those teachers in the classroom at all?
- We can't blanket-block everything because that's also blocking learning. One of the examples I use is YouTube. Yes, there are inappropriate things on YouTube. But there are such rich wonderful learning opportunities too. As budgets continue to be slashed, YouTube offers a lot of learning opportunities. Should we filter and check them? Absolutely. Nobody should be trusted in the classroom with students if they can't also be trusted to use YouTube appropriately.
- they need to be given the opportunity to access YouTube for teaching and learning.
- people who are not certified educators are making decisions about what is blocked. Or a lot of times, it's the piece of software that the district has purchased that makes the blanket decisions. Social networking on many tools will be blocked. That will cut out all opportunities to use images on Flickr, VoiceThread, Blogster.... A piece of software is running the Web filter and blocking full categories, which means we're blocking a lot of learning because of the label of "social networking." Most of the software has the ability to overwrite the filter. But some districts don't give anybody the opportunity to overwrite it.
- If you're doing nothing but blocking all day long, teachers are going to give up using technology. If I were to keep hitting the wall again and again, I'd give up. I'd go back to the tools that I had before the computer was around.
- the biggest part of the problem is that when students go home, it's the Wild West out there. There's no blocking in most cases. There's no filtering. There's usually not an adult to help them make good choices. And they haven't been instructed in the schools about what's appropriate and what's not. That's my biggest fear. We're letting kids wander around on the prairie with no guidance.
- You have to send your teachers home to learn because they can't learn Web 2.0 tools or any of these social networking tools at school--because they're all blocked. Once your teacher goes home to learn, then they have to come back and say, "I'd really like to use this for this purpose. This aligns with my curriculum. This is age appropriate..."
- We need to be able to get to the locking and unlocking at the moment you need it for teaching and learning. [In] one of my districts it takes two and a half weeks to get an answer about whether the site will be open or not. Most people just give up the site because they know the answer is going to come back from some central office, and the answer is going to be no. So we give up. Then somebody comes with questions: "Why aren't we using more technologies in the schools? Why isn't it making difference?"
- So when the expert in the IT department says, "No, no, no," it's hard for the school administrator to say, "Yes, yes, yes," if [he or she] hasn't been exposed to social networking sites or to the possible teaching and learning opportunities. The easy answer is to block everything. Then we'll be safe. But we're really not.
- A tiered approach is great. Most of the filtering software is tiered. Let's start off by opening access for teachers, and let them explore and begin to figure out how to use YouTube appropriately in the classroom.
- Education is the key. Leadership is absolutely the key. The leader has to understand why this is important, then advocate to others [on behalf of] the faculty and students that this is about teaching and learning today.
- It's about appropriate engagement. We have to find the tools that we can embed into curriculum that students will really enjoy. They do not enjoy another packet of papers. They want multimedia. They crave the opportunity to work with other people--and other people outside of our schools. With a lot of these tools, we have that opportunity--of course, with supervision.
- We lose so many opportunities when a network person says, "No Skyping in our school district...."