Let’s ban pencils!

http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/columnists/johnson/johnson004.shtml Originally, http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2010/10/1/bftp-rules-for-pod-people-and-a-proposal-to-ban-pencils.html

Rules for Pod People and a Proposal to Ban Pencils
Ex abusu non arguitur in usum. (The abuse of a thing is no argument against its use.)

One of my biggest worries has always been that by denying access in school to technologies that students find useful and meaningful, we make school more and more irrelevant to our “Net Genners.” (One of our students on the advisory board had the courage to say he concentrates better in study hall and the library when his digital music player drowns out other distractions.) When are we going to learn to use the kids’ devices for their benefit rather than invent excuses to outlaw them?(Johnson)

I recently read Doug Johnson’s column, originally posted on his BlueSkunk blog. His thesis is glaringly and sadly still true. Gatekeepers need to follow sensible and valid practices not just react. I’ve been bull horning since the Internet came to schools(yup, I’m old) that face2face educationally engaged suoervision by a skilled educator/parent is the only valid way to reduce risk. Always looking toward technology to solve issues, lie installing NetNannies is no replacement for walking the beat. I get 1000 teens a day coming through my school library, with half of them online and I can count 1 or 2 incidents in 6 years- and those were malicious misguided actions, clearly a behavior problem not an Internet/technology problem. Despite library patrons being online with their mobile phones, rarely is anyone disturbed by a phone. We’ve never banned cell phones from the library but rather tried to model their appropriate use. I see sensible practices around the school. If Mr V is having his weekly math exam, the cell phones are packed away at the initial time- he rarely has to ask now. That is good teaching not a device issue.
Our society, not just schools, seems addicted to the notion that technologies or systems will remove messy problems. Tech is powerful asset but creates social problems too. Smart bombs couldn’t catch Bin Laden but rather kill civilians. The pilot needs to be smart not the bomb!
Installing CCT cameras to replace security teams don’t protect property. Serve-lance cameras do not make a community as safe as effective police officers walking, riding or cycling the beat.

Pencils, cell phones or laptop computers all can endanger a child in school. Let’s follow Dr Johnson and ban all these high risk devices! Oh ya, and let’s burn those nasty novels too- they cause insurrections and public unrest.


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