Thursday, January 15, 2004

Subjects Like This Drive Me Nuts...

Cynical-C posted this entry about 13 year old Carl Rimmer who installed a DOS based messaging program on a school computer and then sent a message out saying "hey", and got a 3 day suspension from school.

This kind of thing drives Chris over at Cynical-C insane.
It does me too, but I think for different reasons.

Dave Lieber states:
"Remember, we pay the salaries of the teachers and staff. We buy the computers. We pay for the buildings in which they are used. As long as public school is public, the Beverly Sweeneys of the world need to know that it is our right and duty to look over their shoulders and question what they do."

I would like to remind Mr. Lieber that the taxpayers also pay for the maintenance of said computers as well as the salaries of the teachers who supervise the protocol of the users of those computers. It is up to the Beverly Sweeneys of the world to make sure that our taxpayers money is not wasted (money that could instead be used to purchase newer, better equipment for already cash strapped school districts) removing viruses and inappropriate material from school computers that was installed without permission by the litte Carl Rimmers of the world.

He writes:
"The first problem here is that Sweeney, a computer teacher, apparently doesn't understand the term hacking. Hacking is not using a built-in command to send a message. Hacking is defined in two general ways: 1) use of a computer to break into someone else's computer system, and 2) the sophisticated techniques used by an adept computer programmer."

Mr. Lieber is missing the point. The issue is not "hacking". The real issue is respect for equipment that is shared by a large number of people. I'm no "adept computer programmer" but I do think that a 13 year old shouldn't be screwing with the DOS of a schools' system of computers. Why should little Carl be allowed to install a program that can potentially fuck up other programs, again costing taxpayers money in repair and maintenance costs...and let me tell you, if you call someone into a school to do any sort of work, they are charging you 3 times the going rate. Everyone loves to feed at the public trough.

Public property is not personal property and shouldn't be used as though it is. What if all of Carls classmates did the same and brought all kinds of shit from home and installed it on the schools much would that cost taxpayers in repair and maintenance?
What about porn?
What if some little kid brings that in and uploads it?
Who's paying the legal costs of the suit that would be filed by the parent whose child viewed it because someone elses child uploaded it without the knowledge of the Beverley Sweeneys of the world?
The taxpayers of course, and probably Ms. Sweeney personally as well.
Liability is a fucking HUGE issue in schools, and why should they put themselves, and the taxpayers Mr. Lieber is so high on his horse about, in a position to take it?

The Toronto District School Board has a 4 page contract that children and parents have to sign before a child uses any computer equipment. Let me tell you, Carl would have been turfed here in a New York minute, and a possible suit filed (on behalf of the taxpayers) against his parents if the equipment was damaged.

But, I think what bothers me most about this is the popular pastime of bashing authority figures in the eyes of children.
We complain that children have no respect for authority.
That they have no limits, that they are arrogant and mouthy.

Well, no fucking wonder!

From commercials depicting parents as morons and children as the intelligent decision makers to articles bashing teachers for maintaining some sort of order in their classrooms...all these chip away at children's ability to learn respect for others, and the property of others.

The fact that little Carl Rimmer felt free to install software on a computer that did not belong to him, without informing anyone, tells me that he doesn't understand what is appropriate and inappropriate.

What bothers me, is this attitude of entitlement that media often seems to enforce.
"Carl was learning. What's your problem?"
My problem is that Carl was treating public property as though it were his personal property.
It's about respect for things that do not belong to you.

It's something that we are rapidly losing, and advocates for loosey goosey teaching methods like Mr. Lieber just make an eductors job harder than it needs to be.
I don't know if he thinks that teaching todays child is a walk in the park...but I'm here to tell him that it isn't.

Between the media and parents interference, demanding that their children have no discipline from teachers, less homework, easier tests, and no keeping children back a grade if they fail, it's almost impossible to do your job.

We can complain that children are coming out of school without the education that they used to get, and they are right. It's because of this attitude of "let them do whatever the hell they want"...because they're "learning at their own pace".

Yes, but you are asking for them to learn with little or no guidance.
It's not possible.

What they aren't being allowed to learn by people with Mr. Lieber's attitude is a basic life skill:
Respect and consideration for others and that everything they touch is not theirs to do with what they please.

Even if they are 'learning'