Tag Archives: censorship

Whose job is it to teach responsible online behaviour?

Everybody’s talking about it: online behaviour.

We’ve come around, finally and reluctantly, on the whole, to accepting that social media is part of our world, young people as well as adult. Even television shows and radio stations are tweeting and blogging – how more mainstream can you get?

On the negative side, we also hear about  bad behaviour online, and the confusion arising from changes to privacy, particularly on Facebook. Many people have spoken out about what needs to be happening in schools, including Jenny Luca and Will Richardson. There are many passionate responses to Facebook’s handling of privacy on the web.

Some people are leaving Facebook.

Some people are staying.

It’s interesting that morning programs on television are often featuring conversations about social media, Twitter and Facebook in particular. This morning Channel 7’s morning program featured a spokeswoman talking about Facebook privacy and the inappropriate content that was being shared outside the users’ immediate circle of Facebook friends. I was surprised that the tone was reasonable, and many interesting points were raised, for example, the question as to why people post strong and even abusive comments to people on Twitter when they wouldn’t behave that way if they met these people face to face.

That’s the difference – face to face interaction compared to faceless interaction. Facebook, ironically, is faceless. When we get involved in a passionate discussion we may be talking to friends of friends who are faceless to us. We don’t expect to meet them, and we don’t exercise the same caution that we would if we knew we’d be seeing them in person. It’s the same with road rage.

For me, that’s the message we need to get out to students. Don’t get me wrong – I’m an advocate of the connective power of social media, but I think that students should be reminded that while they are chatting with ‘friends’ in the privacy of their bedrooms, their conversations are very public.

Facebook is very easy to use. It’s easy to add friends, photos, applications, become fans and group members. But it isn’t easy to wade through the new privacy regulations. Even with a manual it confuses me. And it’s not something young people (or anyone) are likely to do any more than they would happily peruse a legal document. Changes occur without enough notice, it’s easy to let it all go and hope for the best.

The Australian government’s cybersafety program directed by The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published units of work designed to teach responsible online behaviour.

But who is responsible for teaching this? Will it be taught by the few educators who have independently decided it’s important, or across the school following a directive from principals?

I worry that while primary schools may consider this an essential part of the curriculum, just as they educate children about bullying, drug-taking, etc., secondary schools may be confused as to whose role this is.  It may not fit into an already overcrowded curriculum. It may be perceived that secondary students are old enough to be responsible or that what they do in their private time is no concern of the school.

I would like to run parent sessions on Facebook, but it’s blocked for staff and students in our school. The leaders of our school have made this decision in the best interests of our students. Fair enough, but have they thought the issue through? Blocking Facebook at school prevents education. It indicates serious handwashing.

Parents are talking about feeling helpless and ignorant when it comes to their children’s online activities. We could say that they should monitor their children’s Facebook activity, but until what age? Try monitoring a 16 year old and see what happens.

Parents should be educated but then so should school leaders and teachers. The only way to understand something is to get into it and see how it works. It’s not a matter of saying ‘it’s not for me’; we can’t afford to say that anymore. We can’t keep blaming parents, schools, the government.

I remember a primary school principal once saying that what the students did out of school wasn’t his responsibility (when I raised the issue of pornography sites being passed around online). We can no longer separate school and home. Online interaction out of school spills into school interaction.

We are all responsible. We should all become educated. We should all educate where appropriate.

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Filed under debate, Education, internet, network literacy

Banned books, yes, but banned fonts …?

Banned books we know about, but what’s the deal with censored fonts?

Jan Tschichold was born in 1902 and later was known for his support of the “new typography”, a design style inspired by the Bauhaus school and Russian Constructivists. Now, we’re talking about font here – letters on a page. Can you believe that this man, due to his passionate advocacy of this new typography, was actually arrested in 1933, and he and his wife were imprisoned by the Nazis for creating “un-German” typography. They later emigrated to Switzerland, and Tschichold couldn’t stand the new typography any more because of its Nazi associations, so he switched to classical design. Tschichold became design director for Penguin Books.

This story appealed to my love of the absurd.

Here’s a Short biography of Tschichold (requires Flash)

Jason Santa Maria blogs about Tschichold.
Here’s a facetious summary of Tschichold in Twenty Faces.

If you’re interested, you can read more about Tschichold’s life here

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Filed under humour

Censorship




Banned Books Week Banner

Originally uploaded by DML East Branch

If you click on the photo of the banned books banner, you’ll be directed to its Flickr home, and you’ll be able to hover over each book to discover what it is. An interesting theme – banned books.

Censorship. It takes me back to when, as an Australian of Russian descent, I attended a Saturday Russian language school (RS, we used to call it), during the time when our parents’ fear of Russian communism was raw. My own grandfather witnessed his father being shot at the age of six. The censorship that ensued at Russian School (RS), through the eyes of young people, took on a comical aspect. The more paranoid members of our community (am I being unkind?) decided to protect us from ‘evil’ by eliminating our exposure to all things Soviet (which means ‘council’, by the way). We spent our Saturdays drawn like moths to the flame, peering through thick black texta-covered chunks of text through the light, or trying to unstick glued pages. In most cases, our discoveries left us disappointed or confused when the forbidden words revealed themselves as ‘pioneers’ (soviet scouts) or the date of a celebration we weren’t supposed to know about. Continue reading

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Filed under Children's books, Education, humour, Teacher librarians