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Schools censoring blogs

Schools censoring blogs

The Wall Street Journal has a good article by Vauhini Vara about schools cracking down on students who say stuff in their blogs. On the unreasonable side:

Others have taken a more aggressive approach. Last month, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J., banned the students at its 58 elementary schools and five high schools from maintaining personal Web pages on sites like MySpace and Xanga, a blogging service. Marianna Thompson, director of communications for the diocese, said the goal of the ban is to protect students from online predators, as well as to prevent students from harassing or bullying each other. “An unsupervised blog is an inappropriate use of their time,” she said.

Yikes. [Tags: ]

5 Responses to “Schools censoring blogs”

  1. A Roman Catholic Diocese protecting kids form predators? The jokes just write themselves, don’t they? Sheesh.

    Students writing? Egads! Kids expressing themselves? Good heavens! There’s a certain demographic that just loves to hate the internet, I think. It’s the same human impulse that has caused villagers to wield torches en masse since time began.

    I’d like to see schools actively providing a safe and secure method for students to blog. I’d like to see school officials opening up web-based dialogues with their students and the communities they serve.

  2. But how do they know what the kids are doing when they’re not at school?

  3. I used to go to a boarding school where we were expressly forbidden from talking to journalists. In fact, I once appeared on satellite news saying that I was not allowed to comment. This is all well and good.

    But it appears from my searching that current students at the school are disallowed from maintaining blogs or web pages. I haven’t called the school to confirm this hypothesis, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    I think this is a good thing. The main reason being that British Tabloid newspapers frequently try to dig up what they can on my school. There were at least three Princes and one equivalent heir at my school while I was there, and I don’t imagine the amount of VIP students has changed much since.

    The rule is to avoid stories like the following from appearing: (names obviously made up)

    Teacher accused of helping Prince Jonathan cheat.

    A furore broke out yesterday as it was revealed that Prince Jonathan’s physics teacher may have helped him unduly on his Key stage 20 coursework. Minerva MacGonnagal, 36, who has been teaching Physics at Welton Academy for ten years, was unavailable for comment, and the school did not return our calls at the time of writing.

    Tom Brown, a 20th year student at Welton, motto “Prosperare sine reglae”, wrote in his livejournal, “Gonners told us exactly how to complete our coursework today. I don’t normally like that witch of a woman, but she has managed to come up trumps for once”…

    Yes, Tom Brown would have been stupid to write that in his LJ, but it would have happened had he been allowed to have one, and he would have had serious problems with the school, his peers, and the press as a result of it.

    Is banning a blog a good thing? Protection from perverts as justification is probably OTT, but for protection from a child’s peers and the press then the measures are entirely justifiable. These children sometimes are unaware of the full consequences of their actions, so it is best to try and protect them from this truly devastating section of society.

  4. I agree with the statement that it is “best to try and protect them [children] from this truly devastating section of society.

    We need to create safe blogging platforms, virtual spaces in which to teach cyber-ethics rather than throw students out there and then take the point of view that every time they make a mistake, every inappropriate instance they encounter is a “teachable moment.”

    Blogs need to be treated more like problem-based learning (PBL) opportunities. Their use should be as a simulation and education provided to students’ parents. Behaving appropriately face to face and online is something we all have to learn how to do…but I don’t have to go to a bar where people are smoking “ganga” to learn how NOT to behave.

    More on this at:
    http://www.mguhlin.net/blog/archives/2005/12/entry_742.htm

  5. Yeah, I had the same problem at my school where the school tried and shut down the student newspaper and then they basically told me to shut up because I was inspiring kids to stand up for themselves. I finally graduated and made a site exposing them for it, maybe people reading this would find it interesting. Check it out at http://www.leelanautalk.org
    Btw the school I’m talking about here is The Leelanau School — Anybody been there?

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