One of my recent posts prompted this reply from Simon and I would like to respond to it. The posts in this series are challenging the use of filters and internet blocking in schools and questioning the reasoning behind it. The second post provides a solution to this. Simons responce is below:
“While you’re at it, why not allow them to have sexual relations as soon as they’re biologically inclined. Encourage them to make a conscious decision or choice, it’ll make them responsible, ethical, moral citizens. Don’t remove the choice from them – what message does that send? Allow them the opportunity to have sex with each other, or their teachers, monitor it, and then deal with the issue AFTER it’s occurred.
Similarly, let’s allow children to drive motor vehicles as soon as they can reach the pedals, drink alcohol, own firearms, get married, vote…“
I find this comment a little surprizing and too be honest, melodramatic.
The whole concept being proposed is actually safe and appropriate use of the resources, its about developing a moral and ethical approach and behaviours. You don’t develop this by removing choice. Banning and blocking does not develop an ethical and moral approach. It is a bandage you stick over a gapping wound. It make it someone elses problem and does not address the issue.
You talk of sexual relationships as if the school saying you shall not do this is actually going to stop it. Of course a school takes a stand on such activities, of course they say its unacceptable, inappropriate and often illegal, but the school must also explain why. If we want to make a real impact on the students we must go beyond blocking, banning or setting rules and develop a deep and philisophical understanding of rationale, ethical and moral issues.
To do this we must be open and transparent, we must provide choice, where appropriate. If you explain clearly the rationale behind rules or guidelines and then the student must make a deliberate decision to behave in a certain way. Accompanying this must be monitoring that allows the school to easily check those who have diverged from the standards the school sets.
The country we live in sets the framework of laws that we must follow, as a school there are some absolutes that must be applied, for example there is no case for pornography being acceptable at school, this is a legal, ethical and moral stance. There are restrictions that governments set that must be followed as well.
However, school do go considerably further than this, schools set regulations, rule etc for a wide range of reasons – often these rules are set with out suitable explanation – often to they are TTWWADII – “thats the way we always do it”. These rules and regulations need, in fact, must be challenged. Our students on their cellphones can access websites, this does not go through the school system, they bypass any filtering we may put in place and our only way of effectively dealing with this is to instill suitable and appropriate behaviours. Most of our students have internet access at home, we as holistic educators want them to behave appropriately everywhere not just at school – we have no control over their use of the internet at home – but we can influence their behaviour by developing a suitable moral and ethical approach.
In the second part of the post you will not that this is also an age dependent process, that younger students have not reached a suitable level of maturation to be able to deal with the decisions and to balance the demands of the now and the concequences of the future so these processes are applied with this in mind. As the students progresses through their schooling the level of restriction is lowered progressively and the level of self responcibility increased.
As educators we need to prepare our students for the next stage of their learning journey whether this is employment, the next school or higher education. We are failing in this role if the student leaving us does not know how to act appropriately in an environment with out restricts, just expectations and where the concequences are some much great that at school.