Thursday, October 19, 2006
A Scary Minefield of Ideas! 
I guess this is supposed to be a good news story, and really it's just a relaunched school district site, but the slant of the article just seemed so wrong somehow that I wanted to post it -- County education Web site unveiled:
"Already in place in some Pajaro Valley schools, in a month, every student and teacher in the county will have free access to subscription encyclopedia sites that are aligned with California state education standards and are designed to keep kids from culling half-baked or just wrong information in a general Internet search.

On Google, for example, typing Martin Luther King Jr. pulls up www.martinlutherking.org, a site that acts as platform for white supremacists.

'The great myth is that if it's on the Internet, it must be true,' said Thom Dunks, director of technology for the county office. People think of porn and that which is harmful for kids, but there's also a whole minefield of ideas out there.'"
Yeah, porn is one thing, but imagine kids having access to IDEAS! Lock the doors! Shutter the windows! They just don't get it.

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... exactly! And what is wrong with the idea that some black people where also extremists? Actually I think there is more truth in martinlutherking.org than there is in the educational propaganda the state feeds us about the man and his life. The site even offers you the possibility to read his actual speeches, so you can figure it out for yourself.

Internet is so great because it gives you the opportunity to look at things from a whole bunch of angles.

Well, you're probably wrong about the relative amount of "truth" on that slander site, but that's not really the point. There's all kinds of garbage out there on the web, and lots of great stuff, and I suppose the quality of most information lies somewhere in between.

As I think you would agree, this is really about information literacy and the importance of teaching kids how to do research, how to select and verify sources, identify biases, and how to judge and weigh differing persectives.

Instead of restricting access or only allowing "approved" information sources, why not really help kids learn to thrive in a rich (and sometimes scary and difficult) information environment like the real world?

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    I'm also studying how people envision their future lifestyles as the basis for a new web application.


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