Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are You a Polite Challenger?

In discussing technology access in schools with my online graduate class, one of the participants made a reference to colleague and called him a "polite challenger". In order to gain access to the technology he needed for his students, this person would often push back at the restrictions in place. It is true that schools treat technology and the Internet as something to protect students from rather than a tool that provides some of the most exciting learning experiences we've ever had access to. Yes, we are in charge of student safety when kids are in our classrooms, but most "blocking" programs are ineffective - they tend to block more good content than bad and students often know how to get around these programs to get to the "blocked" site they want to get to in any case. Wouldn't it be great if decisions about what sites were open in your school was decided by a committee of teachers rather than a random technology person? Wouldn't it be nice if every teacher had the power to add sites he or she wanted to use with students to the "nonblocked" list at the time they needed them? Wouldn't it be nice if we were trusted to act as professionals and that those teachers making bad choices were dealt with individually rather than punishing all teachers and students by assuming we are incapable of making good decisions?

I am going to continue to be a "polite challenger" in my own school. I hope you, too, will stand up for the things you think are important for your own students!

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