The Viewpoint: Filtering information in schools impedes learning
December 21, 2016
Filed under Op-Ed
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Across the nation, schools and libraries have been forced in the name of the law to filter Internet-based content from their computers. Some Americans have decided to fight back against these restrictions.
These people– many of them being government workers themselves, as is in the case of the Library Freedom Project– point to the fact that as the American public has become more and more aware of the monitoring of their private Internet activity by agencies like the National Security Agency, more commonly referred to as the NSA. Many have developed a fear of being blacklisted for web searches, leading to a social state in which citizens chose to not explore their intellectual curiosities online as a result of a fear of government monitoring.
Some public librarians who see this limitation on learning as a problem, as has been the case in locations in Florida and Maine, have gone as far as to not only delete web filtering programs from their office interfaces, but also to install untrackable web searching services.
Administrators of many public schools argue that schools must implement web filtering to prevent students from viewing inappropriate content, such as pornography, on school grounds.
However, any student with a cellphone is able to view “inappropriate” content anywhere and anytime they please. Should a student choose to view explicit content on school grounds and said content was to be seen by a school employee, the student would face punishment– whether it be for ignoring their teachers, having inappropriate content on school grounds, or disrupting class. The same would be true for school computers, although it would be much easier for staff to discover the viewing of explicit content due to the larger screens- but officials choose to lock content for fear of exposing students to reality.
Although administrators may argue that web filters would save teachers the trouble of reporting students who chose to view explicit content and deter students from wasting class time, is it not the right of students to decide whether to take their education seriously by paying attention in class? Would allowing students greater choice, allowing them to make mistakes in high school rather than in the workplace, not benefit their educations? Would it not teach them accountability?