A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post February 24, 2009. This post was reincarnated as a column that you can find here.
These kind of questions drive me bonkers:
- Should we ban games from our library?
- Should block social networking sites in our building?
- Should kids be allowed to access to YouTube in our district?
These questions make about as much sense as asking:
- Should we be ban books from our libraries?
- Should we allow kids to have pencils and paper in our building?
- Should kids be allowed to watch DVDs in our district?
Why, when thinking about what we give kids access to, do adults so often start with format as opposed to the content of that format?
The sense of banning a website based on the information's container (game, social networking site, wiki, blog, etc.) is as logical as saying, "Since Penthouse is published in a magazine format, we cannot allow students to bring magazines to school."
For some reason I've been asked a lot lately about gaming in school. I don't know that much about games and haven't been a big computer game player since Loderunner for the Apple IIe. But of course that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion (as with so many topics):
Let’s be clear that there are games and there are games -- just like there are movies and there are movies; there are books and there are books. Games vary widely in type -- from first person shoot em’ ups to skill attainment tutors with complex management programs. Games vary in taste, rating, maturity level, and even factual accuracy.
The question shouldn’t be “Do we permit students to play games?” but “Which games should we allow our students to play?" Game On! October 2007 Tech Proof column on the Education World website
Why are we as adults so willing to ban resources based on their format instead of their content? Quicker, I suppose. Decisive. New formats are always a little suspicious. The inability to distinguish between medium and message?
Forming an opinion of a website based on its format makes about as much sense as forming an opinion about a person based on his ethnicity. We've got to get beyond format bigotry.
Format bigotry, of course, extends beyond what is filtered on the Internet. Our adult prejudices against certain formats of entertainment, information and communication take many guises. You may be a format bigot if:
- You have different rules surrounding the checkout of videos and laptop computers than you do books.
- You allow voluntary free reading of books, but ban personal audio players with audio books.
- You believe reading novels is preferable to reading graphic novels.
- You accept research findings in print but not as a multimedia product.
- You ask kids to read something else when they’ve read one book multiple times, but you purchase movies just so you can watch them again and again.
- You require at least one “print’ reference in student research papers, but not at least one audiocast, video or blog reference.
- You allow, and even encourage kids come to the library to play chess on a chessboard, but not chess on a computer screen.
The chance of anyone who is reading this column is “literate” is pretty high. That is literate in the print sense anyway. Our own education focused on books, writing and oral communication. The chance of today’s educators being “media literate” is much lower. While we understand and respect the vocabulary, syntax and power of the written word, we are far less comfortable creating and learning from video, audio, and visual materials.