Search this site
Other stuff

Follow me on Twitter at:

@BlueSkunkBlog

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

Locations of visitors to this page

My latest book:

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Fan Page on Facebook

 

Must-read K-12 IT Blog
EdTech's Must-Read K-12 IT Blogs 

 

Teach.com

 

 

 


Wednesday
Oct312007

Will we do better with The Golden Compass than we did with Lucky?

“Thou shalt not” might reach the head, but it takes “Once upon a time” to reach the heart. Philip Pullman
Given the recent discussion of Philip Pullman trilogy that begins with The Golden Compass and our individual reactions toward it on LM_Net, it might be a good time to review the American Library Association Code of Ethics especially items 2 and 7.
  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Regardless of our own religious values or personal tastes (or that the religious right will be mounting a pressure campaign to have these books censored), all public school librarians should fight to keep Pullman's books on their shelves. As well as C.S. Lewis's books. As well as any writing that has been critically and positively reviewed.

Our profession needs to handle this one better than we did the Power of Lucky last spring!

Oh, I personally really like Pullman's His Dark Materials series. I've read them all and am currently enjoying re-reading them.

nk.jpgAs to the movie - one word: Nicole! I just may have to see it twice - but only to make sure the movie's values are suitable for children.

 

Tuesday
Oct302007

Threat level orange

The sign just outside the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport has read "Threat Level Orange" for as long as the sign has been up - I'm guessing about five years. I wonder if the message even registers on anyone anymore.

I thought about that sign and its message of fear after reading this great response to an early blog post, "Fear-Mongering": 

Thank you, Doug - and Nancy - for this timely post. "Fear mongering" is exactly the term I would use to describe the US Attorney's Project Safe Childhood video, which you can view or download at http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/. Since I teach an Internet Safety workshop for my district, my boss gave me a copy to review. He attended an evening workshop the US Attorney's Office did last month at one of our high schools during which this video was shown. Fortunately, it was poorly attended or I think many students would have lost their parent permission to use the Internet while at school.

In a nutshell, the video is about Internet predators and has little to do with how to teach our students to use the Internet safely, effectively, and ethically.

I think a much better resource is the What You Need to Know video from http://ikeepsafe.org/PRC/, which introduces parents to the benefits and realities of Web 2.0.

Thanks for starting the conversation! - Gail Dresler

I watched both videos that Gail mentions. Wow, what a difference in treatment of Internet dangers. These clips are representative of the approaches taken:

from US Attorney's Project Safe Childhood video

doj.jpg

from What You Need to Know video from ikeepsafe

ikeepsafe.jpg

Just a quick disclaimer: I am of the opinion that the easiest way to tell if the current administration and its ilk are lying is to see if their lips are moving. That they use irrational fears, whether of terrorists or child molestors (everything except global warming), to keep in power. You've been warned.

The Department of Justice video lumps all pedophilia, all child porn and all predation directly to the Internet. No statistics, no recognition that there is a difference between the Internet as causation or distribution of crimes against children, no attempt to gauge the scope of the problems. Agreed, that even one pedophile or child pornographer is one too many, but watching the DOJ video gives the impression that these dangers are omnipresent. At what point, as with the "Level Orange" hyperbole of airline safety, does the public simply tune-out?

The iKeepSafe materials, take a rational, positive, and, I believe, more effective approach to keeping kids safe online. Unlike the DOJ production, there are actually ideas about what parents can do to help protect their children, and more importantly, how they can help teach their kids to be safe, indpeendent of parental supervision.

I encourage you to watch both videos. And be aware that there may be fear-mongers who may be more interested in their own importance than in children's safety working within your community.  The opportunities and skills offered by the Internet are too important to kids to have these folks scare the bejeesus out of parents and school administrators who will attempt to block instead of teach.

Monday
Oct292007

Vote no

ThumbsDown.jpgWe are one of 99 school districts in Minnesota (1 in 3) going to our local taxpayers next week asking for more money for operations. Our legislature gave schools a 1.5% increase in the basic formula for next year; inflation is running at 4-6%. Even an English major can do the math. We can't maintain programs unless we get additional revenue.

What taxpayers don't know is that many of middle level bureaucrats like me are opposed to this levy referendum passing. For some very good reasons:

  1. If the referendum passes we won't have an excuse for not adequately educating kids. The underfunding card is always an easy one to play when our test scores aren't the best.
  2. If the increase doesn't pass, it will mean staffing cuts. And it's "last-hired, first-fired" in schools. That means these young, energetic teachers whose radical new ideas about education will be gone, leaving those of us who are tired and jaded to run the show. Just the way we like it.
  3. Less money means less stuff to order, less equipment to repair, fewer people to train, and less staff to supervise. That all adds up to less work for me. So it means a little more work for teachers and fewer resources. Teachers get all summer off already, for cripes sakes.
  4. Two words: Whining Rights!
  5. Non-passage may well mean cuts in library programs which will result in fewer graduates who think for themselves and follow directions without question. We all know the non-thinkers are much easier to manage.

Oh sure, the cry-babies will say that class sizes will go up, all-day kindergarten will probably be dropped, textbooks will need to last more years between replacements, computers will be less reliable, more kids will need to walk to school, and the buildings will be grungier. But so what? MY kids are out of school and MY taxes are high enough. It's not like the attendant who changes my drool bucket in the nursing home will need a PhD for crying out loud.

Make a bureaucrat happy today. VOTE NO!