Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Deny the Voice

"No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice"
-T.S. Eliot (1888–1965),
Ash Wednesday

I had planned to blog about NCLB or high stakes testing, but Ewan McIntosh's recent commentary on the issue of student voice, "How much do schools really value pupils' views?" changed my mind.

We've had the SV discussion before. It's a critical issue in a time of transition, as schools struggle to simultaneously meet academic standards and prepare young adults for life in a digital world.

According to an article in eSchool News online, "Americans understand that fundamental changes must be made to the U.S. educational system if the country is to remain competitive in the 21st century". In response to the "Education Attitudes 2007" survey, which showed that 59% of the public favors incorporating information technology into the curriculum, a panel of experts was convened at the National Press Club . The participants, educators and ed-tech specialists, failed to reach consensus on a solution. No mention was made of student representatives on the panel.

This omission would not surprise McIntosh. He points out that the majority of school districts block and filter the most popular social networking sites
without making any attempt to educate youngsters on how to express their views.

We can't block every site which offers young adults a chance to explore our complex world and communicate with their peers - nor should we want to. We are educators: our job must be to help them understand the vast potential for good and harm that exists in their digital universe.

And, when they offer suggestions or criticisms, we should listen.

"To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) means everything."
-André Breton (1896–1966), French surrealist.
Surrealism and Painting (1928)


Eric Vance said...

It is frustrating to know that we are blocking all the social networking sites and therefore sheltering the students from an experience that most of them are involved in without guidance outside of school. I am setting up a student group to explore how to incorporate information technology into the curriculum. Their views are most likely far more progressive than the adults in the building.

diane said...


It's good to know that there are administrators who recognize that excessive blocking is a problem.

I'd be interested to hear your students' recommendations - maybe my currents events class can have a discussion on this topic and share their thoughts, also.

Reminds me of a warning/prophecy from "my" era:

"...Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'"