Thursday, 14 August 2008

Un-banned

Stuff that is banned becomes unbanned on YouTube. Am researching for the writing of a chapter about YoTube for the book Guy and I are putting together on 'Web 2.0 for Schools' - (for this series.)

have used the search term 'banned cartoons' and fascinated to discover this Betty Boop cartoon:



Obviously banned for its racist content. Interesting also is the discussion that follows in the comments section.

More disturbing was the discussion which followed a news report about a banned diversity training video... this is a more recent film which was supposed to be used as a staff development/ awareness raising piece. However people complained about the assumptions that white, 'blue collar workers' are more likely to be racist than black or hispanics. The discussion that ensues on YouTube is quickly taken over by white supremists. Following links from their discussions quickly took me down avenues too dark to paste into my blog. Gut wrenching stuff. Anyhow this is the original news report:




Certainly all sorts of issues here to consider in terms of using YouTube in schools - I would not feel confident that I could deal with the possible outpourings that some of the videos and comments that YouTube might incite from my students. There are important issues to consider about how to introduce YouTube and how to guide students' use of the site so that they come to a critical reading of some of the hateful material there.

And I have to admit, this kind of stuff forces one to take a moral position - something I find a real challenge. I like to think that as a teacher I don't dictate to kids what to think but give them the resources to think about and to think with and then let them go. But actually when push comes to shove, I would have to take a clear ant racist and anti sexist stance - and I am not sure what this looks like without either allowing some of these views to be voiced in my classroom (and all that implies) or without banning this stuff. Hmmm.

And finally ... maybe Ihave a lot to learn from sites like this which Rosa told me about.

6 comments:

Dan said...

I hadn't ever thought about this Joolz, and I have to agree that I'm not entirely sure how comfortable, and indeed capable I would be of dealing with this, on the fly, in the classroom. It *would* force you to take a moral position. However, I know from some of my fellow PGCE students this year that even teaching the Different Cultures Poetry from the AQA Anthology can raise some racist remarks and comments from GCSE Students. At this point again I'm sure we have to meet these opinions head on, and it's OK to take a stance. Is it more dangerous to tackle these issues in the classroom (surely the citizenship and PSHE curriculum is designed to tackle these issues) or to allow, perhaps, some misguided individuals to continue with such thoughts and beliefs into their life. That's assuming of course we could change their views.

As a YouTube issue, is this enough to block YouTube in schools? Do these small - are they small? - drawbacks to such a fantastic site, that has such potential in the classroom a reason for wholesale banning of the site, and others like it? Perhaps we should be taking an attitude where YouTube is blocked for students, available for staff and then on request we could whitelist certain views that are related to our classroom work. I still believe that by preventing students access to certain areas of the web is a failure to educate to them, and that we need to teach them to use the web responsibly and as you put it so well yourself earlier in the year, we need to give them the tools to be able to work our what is trustworthy, and what should be regarded with caution.

There are a lot of questions in this comment that I don't have the answers to, but I'm now thinking about them - thanks!

DrJoolz said...

Hi Dan ...

You say:
I'm not entirely sure how comfortable, and indeed capable I would be of dealing with this, on the fly, in the classroom.

I am not surprised you don't know. It is very hard I think - but one thing is for sure, you can't ignore these issues for long. And you will probably develop over time. a range of strategies. But forewarned is forearmed!!

I thank you for reminding me of the stupidity of banning stuff ... it is ridiculous - anyhow students always find ways round banning. I think the thing is, we have to get the teaching done in a consistent and fair way and not let the existance of this stuff surprise us. There is LOADS of it on YouTube - and if you just browse and wander - rather than searching specifically for stuff that you are interested in ... it is amazing how often it crops up.

Karl said...

Dear both

I would like to think (and I believe/hope the majority would too) that teachers would actively challenge prejudice immediately they come across it. For those of us living in societies where discrimination is outlawed we should have confidence in clearly shining a light on what is unacceptable. I would encourage teachers to remember this is not your personal morality but the outworking of a strong legal position. This is what many of us are doing in work regularly - stating that something is unacceptable and, if necessary, exploring with an individual or group why that is. I understand kids are often picking up on their influences and are testing. The challenge isn't a punishment but clear boundary setting and an opportunity for meaningful exploration and learning. I'd suggest preparing for just such an incident so as to be ready to make something positive of it when it inevitably arises.

I agree we shouldn't ban hateful and prejudiced content, though we should probably minimise the chance of it getting houseroom. But when (not if) it does surface we should be ready to show it for what it is. We can protect others by helping them get to that point of understanding too.

I was thrilled to learn of my 9 year old niece responding to a much older person's comment the other day, "A black person could have been really hurt by what you said". A teacher is most likely the person responsible for that fantastic insight and the confidence to share it.

In the UK, I understand that "Section 28" severely knocked the confidence of teachers and teaching establishments to challenge unacceptable comments and behaviour. That's gone and the legal uncertainty with it. Actively supporting respect, diversity and equality is the right thing to do. Your actions in the classroom and mine in the workplace will help ensure we achieve unassailable confidence in the rightness of anti-discriminatory teaching/leadership.

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