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Placing blame-band aids not solutions

May 1, 2007

Over the past two days, I have been hit over the head three times with the realization that we are doing things all wrong in this country. Not that this is a new revelation, just a jolt back into the same old arguments for me. The first time was through an email I received about Rachel Scott’s dad and his speech before the some governmental committee. Whether this email is true or not I don’t know, but the message was right on in my opinion. In light of the recent slayings at Virginia Tech, the email said he commented that once again the gun is being blamed for the slayings rather than the person who wielded it. Instead of coming to the conclusion that the human being could be flawed we blame the inanimate object and legislate our basic rights away. Causing more oppression and restrictions, thus causing more rebellion and the cycle goes on. Did we not rebel for our Independence over two centuries ago? It also states that the problem is a growing problem in society that we are not facing. For the record, yes, I am a gun owner. Yes, my husband, son, father, and father-in-law hunt. We know several people who do. Our guns are locked in a safe in our garage and our children know that they are not toys to be played with. Most importantly, however, our children respect other people enough not to harm them and they know that when a gun is fired and it hits flesh, it can harm. They also know that violence doesn’t solve the problem it just adds to it. This is how we are raising our children in a house with guns.

Anyway, then my attention was caught by an current article from Innovate entitled “Schools, Children, and Digital Technology: Building Better Relationships for a Better Tomorrow” by Mark van’t Hooft. In this article, he mentions that same idea of a larger societal problem only this time in regards to school restrictions on technology. He states in the second paragraph, “…this punitive approach blames technology for behavior that is rooted in wider social problems and in the psychological issues that characterize adolescence.” BRAVO!!

Then today, I read an article on Yahoo news about schools banning iPods because students are using them to cheat. I ask myself, shouldn’t we be looking at why the students feel they have to cheat in the first place. Why are they led to do this? Are the stakes so high that they need to cheat? I’m not saying lower standards, lower pressure! Moreover, haven’t we taken the hint. The article mentions “Banning baseball caps during tests was obvious — students were writing the answers under the brim. Then, schools started banning cell phones, realizing students could text message the answers to each other.” Every time something is banned, students will just find another way to cheat. We haven’t solved the cheating problem; they’re still doing. Instead we’ve created students who are using their creativity to bypass the system rather using that creativity to learn. What does that say about our system and our society?

I’ve tried to use this argument in regards to our filters here at school. We have new tech standards as outlined in NETS and one of these is to teach ethical behaviors. How can we assess those ethical behaviors if we have the system so locked down that the students aren’t given a choice. Then they resort to unethical behaviors to get around the filters. Does this not strike anyone as contradictory? We’re setting up our kids to act unethically when we are trying to get them to act ethically. History has shown us that regulating ethics (i.e. Prohibition) only makes people want to go out of there way be “unethical”. It is better to teach and give the knowledge to behave correctly rather than try to regulate the behavior with laws and punitive actions. Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

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