Scott Alan Miller

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blogging Banned by Catholics

In the news today is Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, NJ where the school has decided to step directly into the personal lives of its students and ban them from blogging. Not ban them from blogging in school but to ban them from keeping digital journals. Now, when I was in school it was the school that required me to keep a journal. I guess they are now claiming that that action was a mistake and recording one's life is dangerous.

The school makes the outlandish claim that it is doing this for the student's protection. The student's protection? Is blogging now a dangerous passtime? What is really happening is the school does not want to take the time to train its students to be intelligent, responsible and safe Internet denizens. That would be too hard. They don't want to teach students how to do complex web searches so that students understand how people can use information posted to the Internet. They don't want to teach students about the dangers lurking in the world at large. They don't want parents to have to be responsible for their own children. They also don't care about the actual safety of the students.

Don't care about the safety of their students? Yes. What is happening here is the ostrich with its head in the sand. It only seems like safety when your eyes are shut and you don't know how fast a predator is approaching. These students are not learning about the world the way that other students of their same age are. They are not growing and learning in the same ways. They are avoiding issues in the hopes that when they get to be adults (adult being eighteen, of course) that they won't need to be safe anymore. You can't protect someone by sheltering them from normal communications. Sure there can be terrible serial killers who find you by calling your house and seeing if you answer the telephone. But no one ever thinks of not answering the telephone because of it. The US Postal Service can be used to exchange the same "dangerous" personal information as the Internet can. But we don't ban children from using that. But the difference is that we understand that we absolutely must teach our children to use those services in a safe, responsible way. It would never occur to an intelligent person to keep their children from learning to speak just in case they say something that might put them in harms way. Communications is good, it is important, it is vital. In ten years these kids will be behind and may not understand the standard communications mediums being used around them. They might miss out entirely. Or they might experiment without supervision. But I guess experimenting on your own without supervision is safer than having someone teach you how to be safe. At least according to this private school.

Worse yet, by banning blogging the only thing that is happening is a disruption to the normal development of students in the early part of the twenty first century. The school didn't make a rule about giving out personal information. It is totally acceptable to give out that information as long as it isn't in a web based, journalled format. The "home page" paradigm of the 1990's which is just as dangerous is not in question here. Using the telephone isn't in question. Commenting and signing guestbooks on other web sites isn't being banned. This isn't an attack on dangerous Internet usage at all. In fact it is promoting it, in the long run. This is an attack on a piece of modern Internet culture by uneducated and backward educators who find it easier to attack than to learn.

This is a black mark against the private school sector and I hope that this school is truly embarrassed by their foolishness and that other private schools look to them as an example of the dangers of not educating the educators.


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