Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's a small world, after all!

Turns out one of the "Naughty Moms" on that radio station Web site is a 2003 grad of Our Humble High School. Hmmm...23 years old--we guess she has nothing better to do (no diapers, no midnite feedings, no cleaning up the detrius of childhood?) than shake it for the world to see. To tell you the truth, hers was quite a tasteful photo. We're probably just jealous. And, BTW, we've learned that 5 (count 'em!) cherubs from the Class of '03 are parents already. You heard it first from The Scholastic Scribe!

The reason we're deigning yet again to mention the aforesaid "contest" is the First Amendment. Well, that's certainly an interesting segue. But the Internet has raised quite a few concerns in the high school community.

First of all, if we let them, the little cherubs would be online 24/7. No, we're not jokin' ya. We're not quite sure why this is the case (easily distractible, ADD, not enough meds, whatever), but anyone between the ages of 14 and 18 will spend hours and hours and hours, 'til they go blind and the cows come home, Facebooking (yeah, we're old--we don't get the tiny little text on the home page, nor the "writing on the wall" janx for all the world to see), YouTubing, MySpacing, uploading, downloading, iTuning, etc., if given half a chance.

This passion for the Net becomes a problem in your typical all-American suburban public high school. Ya see, education is trendy (12 or 13 new "trends in education" in the 14 years we've been here), and technology seems to be the new trend. In Our Humble High School alone, every classroom teacher was just given an LCD projector (1,000 bucks a pop, I'm told), with no instructions, other than to "use" it. OK, we're smart cookies, but we also know that any techno schmeckno that we can put up on that screen at the front of the room won't be anything compared to what a 16-year-old can accomplish, even in a program as simple as PowerPoint. But we digress.

So, technology is the new thang. But, here's the rub: Only educationally appropriate technology! Which means our Tech guy has to spend lots and lots of his time "blocking" inappropriate sites, which, in turn, fires up the kids to find the newest, bestest, fastest, most fool-proofest proxy to stick it to The Man. And so, the Circle of Life is complete.

What's all this have to do with our beloved First Amendment? We understand that certain Web sites should be off-limits. But what about the rest of the Big, Wide, Wonderful Web? Some of it can be helpful. No, we don't want kids Facebooking their lives away, but YouTube, while hosting lots and lots of juvenile drivel, has some valuable points to make with Generation Next. For example, try to get across the point that Barack Obama is an attractive candidate by having a 16-year-old read an article in The Economist. Can't do it. Try to get across the point the Hillary Clinton has the backing of much of old-school Hollywood. Well, unless it's well-written, we wouldn't share an article from The Nation with anyone. BTW, check out these links, which both make the aforementioned points using video: http://www.blinkx.com/burl?v=cZCdQ9FLiE8lb-YOQydLvdLnDr2LzJP6 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4kl4f_jack-nicholson-on-hillary_news?from=rss

When we were in high school, we studied the Supreme Court's 1969 Tinker decision. In a nutshell, Tinker basically afforded high school students the same Constitutional rights as grownups. Then along came a more conservative court's Hazlewood decision in 1988 (yup, we celebrate Hazlewood's 20th anniversary this year!). Now, the way the high school administrators see it, everything we do here (well, within reason--what goes on at lunch stays at lunch, we hope) falls under the broad umbrella of curriculum. Algebra 1 formulas? Curriculum. Important Civil War battle dates? Curriculum. High school newspaper? Curriculum. Anything we choose to google on our computadoras? Why, curriculum, of course! And Hazlewood says that the principal has jurisdiction over all curriculum. In some ways, Winston Smith had it better in 1984.

Loosen up, people. Technology can teach our children something, when used effectively. Yes, they'll still stray to sites featuring Naughty Moms, and perhaps Obama Girl is a tad risque--but, then, so are the cases of Larry Craig and Elliott Spitzer, and our cherubs study those fine specimens and their misdeeds in AP Government every day.


Anonymous said...

How disappointing to hear schools are more focused on gadgets themselves, and being the Dirty HTML Police, instead of focusing resources on a thoughtful, challenging and relevant curriculum. Perhaps you can find other uses for your $1000 high-tech classroom projector. Maybe shadow puppets ? ---JoSF

Anonymous said...

i know of at least 4 from the class of '05...crazy stuff

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