Teaching road safety by banning roads

Another topic I’ve been on the record with is my feeling that banning a technology (Wikipedia, Google, Social Networking services, Cell phones) as a result of some not using it "correctly" or "appropriately" is short-sighted at best, harmful at worst. This morning a co-worker forwarded me an article which says that the Ohio Education Association has officially "strongly discouraged teachers from using social-networking web sites such as MySpace and Facebook to create personal profiles or communicate with students." Why, because "the dangers of participating in these two sites outweigh the benefits.” [emphasis added]

It seems that a few teachers in Ohio have created seriously inappropriate MySpace profiles which their students had access to. The examples include "one [who] says she’s an ‘aggressive freak in bed,’ another says she has taken drugs and likes to party, and a third describes his mood as ‘dirty’." As a result, no teacher should use these services. Yep, let’s take the actions of a few and apply it to everyone. Hey, a few people have hit people with cars, let’s ban everyone from cars. Better yet, let’s ban roads! That’s a great way to teach kids how to drive safely.

Well, one of the commenters to this post pointed out another blog post along these same lines. A Proposal for Banning Pencils was written by Doug Johnson, the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Public Schools, back in 2005. Why does he think pencils should be banned?

  1. A student might use a pencil to poke out the eye of another student.
  2. A student might write a dirty word or, worse yet, a threatening note to another student, with a pencil.
  3. One student might have a mechanical pencil, making those with wooden ones feel bad.
  4. The pencil might get stolen.
  5. Pencils break and need repairing all the time.
  6. Kids who have pencils might doodle instead of working on their assignments or listening to the teacher.

His justification? These are the same reasons for banning MP3 players in the classroom:

  1. They might get stolen.
  2. They make kids who can’t afford them feel bad.
  3. Kids might listen to them instead of to the teacher.
  4. Who knows what kinds of lyrics the kids might be listening to?
  5. Kids might listen to test answers.

Read both article and all the comments. Then think about your library’s cell phone policy? Is the policy based in the reality of technology today or a knee-jerk reaction to the behavior of a few?

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