November 17, 2007

How will we firefight when there's no water left?

  Teacher Trauma On Twitter 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger

Gordon has some Thoughts on Filtering which sets out why filtering 'unacceptable' websites is so difficult. I can't help feel, though, that he's mistitled his post, and that the attitude which is prevalent in school systems around the world still aims to the lowest common denominator of what's possible. Just ask the kids how high their expectations of us actually are, and you see how low we tend to aim.

It's not a criticism of Gordon, far from it, but is yet another post that sparks my desire to see Local Authorities in general up their game. We need to be writing posts entitled Thoughts on Media Literacy. It's not about shutting things down, firefighting technology as it sprouts, but rather it's about finding a meaningful long-term understanding of media literacy that stands up to whatever technological innovations happen in the next 'n' years.

Don't get me wrong, Local Authorities: please do block and filter any site you feel harbours inappropriate material, but, in the meantime, please work out what you're going to do to work towards opening those sites with some robust media literacy skills being taught across the curriculum, and find some robust punitive measures for those students and staff who choose to abuse their responsibilities.

If you're doing the former, and not doing the latter, then, as a parent (I've always wanted to say that :-) I think I might hold you accountable for not providing my child with the education she will require when she leaves school in 2025.

Confession: when I was in primary school I vandalised a cupboard with a rude word. Well, with a red pen, and I was only five years old. I didn't own up, and the teacher, Mrs O'Hare, didn't ban pens. But, in addressing the whole class, she made me feel that I never wanted to do it again.

Can we not have more Mrs O'Hares in our schools? I don't know what I would have done if she had banned me from using a pen, or asked me to tell her which words I wanted to write before applying myself. Yet, every day, that's what teachers and students are being asked to do while some managers fail to think about how they'll resolve this issue.


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My mate Phil and I were banned from doing practicals in chemistry at school after an unfortunate incident involving ethanol and a box of matches. No harm was done, and it did look cool having flames coming off our fingers, but our teacher decided that enough was enough.

We were not really bothered. We got to sit and watch, then copy down what was supposed to have happened (just like everyone else!).

Phil went on to study engineering at Cambridge.

This story has no bearing on the endlessly frustrating matter of Internet filtering, but your tale of primary vandalism brought it back into my head, so I thought I'd share it :)

Goodness. I hope you both feel better now!

I happened to meet a one of our authority technicians on Thursday, just seconds after I discovered the site hosting our newly uploaded podcasts was blocked by Websense (hadn't noticed as I've managed to cling to iGear for a while longer, but no one else could access them). I got the argument I've had before, "...but they might access something unsuitalbe" - indeed they might, but they might also find lots which is suitable and useful, including their own work which we'd spent a lot of time on.

Chris - flaming fingers was exactly what we were hoping to achieve! That's teenage boys for you :)

and do you think that anyone has yet found a meaningful longterm understanding of media literacy? What I do know that this is a very difficult question that needs as to think very hard and get beyond the simplistic.

There are some really good understandings of Media Literacy that have been developed at the level of the European Union Media Literacy Charter, the UK version and, soon, a Scottish version.

What they all hold in common is not being tied down to any tools in particular - they're flexible enough to be of value in the long term as the tech changes.

I would also suggest that what East Lothian have been doing could never be called simplistic, but it is simple enough for our P3 bloggers to understand.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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