Before I started the readings, I entered this assignment thinking I was going to be pro-filtering, expecting to disagree with the schools that were vying for no filters because I don’t think my students need to be exposed to inappropriate, vulgar material. But throughout the readings, I realized that the anti-filtering schools were not exposing the children to inappropriate material at all. Their purpose is not to give students access to inappropriate content, but rather to allow knowledge facilitation, and I found myself agreeing with what they had to say. I especially agreed with the comment from Belltones, that if students are only exposed to ‘good,’ pre-approved sites that they know are valid, and then they will have absolutely no experience in website evaluation when they enter the real world.
I think that we, as teachers, are responsible for the safety of children online. However, that safety primarily comes from knowledge. I think the most effective way to protect these students is to educate them so that they are capable of protecting and informing themselves. This is the kind of protection that will last and go beyond the school property at the end of the day. It is something they can take with them throughout their life. This being said, I do think there is certainly some cause for filters in the school system, particularly when working with young elementary children. There are plenty of sites available online that are not necessary or appropriate for young second graders to have access to or accidently stumble upon. But perhaps the best system is to educate the students as to what is and is not considered an appropriate site. A procedure can be implemented so the students can inform the teachers if they come upon an ‘inappropriate site,’ which then can be reviewed and blocked if necessary. This way, the students are given the tools to take control of their own internet experience, which I believe will protect them far more than just filters will.