Saturday, August 19, 2006

the culture of fear, apathy and play safe

How are we going to beat the culture of fear created by the media and pandered to by gutless politicians / ED officials, which plays on the fears of parents who just want their kids to be safe?

Extract from a great article by dana boyd, growing up in a culture of fear: from Columbine to banning of MySpace:
"We need to break this culture of fear in order to have a healthy society. Please, please... whenever you interact with youth culture (whether you're a parent, a schoolteacher or a cafe owner), learn from them. Hear them from their perspectives and stop trying to project your own fears onto them. Allow them to flourish by giving them the freedom to make sense of their identity and culture. It doesn't mean that there aren't risks - there are. But they are not as grandiose as the press makes them out to be. And besides, youth need to do stupid things in order to learn from their own mistakes. Never get caught up in the "i told you so" commentary that comes after that "when i was your age" bullshit. People don't learn this way - they learn by putting their hand in the fire and realizing it really is hot and then stepping back.

Post-Columbine, we decided to regulate the symptoms of alienation rather than solve the problem. Today, we are trying to regulate youth efforts to have agency and public space. Both are products of a culture of fear and completely miss the point. We need to figure out how to support youth culture, exploration and efforts to make sense of the social world. The more we try to bottle it into a cookie-cutter model, the more we will destroy that generation."
Recently I posted a message, Every parent wants to protect their children, to the IT teachers lists in SA, Vic, NSW, oz-teachers and TALO, which is public.

There were a couple of negative responses on the SA list, where it was suggested that I was promoting a conspiracy theory (which I am not), and one positive response on the NSW list. I was underwhelmed and don't see much point in continuing to post messages raising these broader issues when the response is either muted or negative. Maybe I am being gutless here myself, I'm not sure. Maybe, the era of lists is over and the thinkers have moved over to blogs and wikis.

I haven't found anything else linking the DOPA (Delete Online Predators Act) specifics to the general trend by reactionaries to attempt to destroy internet / www functionality - by preparing the children to accept censorship we train them to accept censorship and internalise their own lack of freedom as adults. Do we have a current generation of self censored adult teachers? Is that the problem? Am I being too harsh in suggesting that or is it more that teachers are too busy and / or just don't know what to do? I feel that we are approaching a situation where something has to give. I'm thinking that we need a political solution to develop, something like the new pirate party in Sweden, perhaps, but with a broader agenda that extends to censorship in Schools and the denial of the rights of the child to explore new technologies.

Earlier I posted about the threat to net neutrality to the same lists. There were no responses at all to that. It's hard to believe. The people that invented the internet (Cerf) and the web (Berners-Lee) are ringing alarm bells and teachers don't want to know about it. No discussion whatsoever.

Is there a culture of apathy and play safe that parallels the culture of fear that Dana speaks so eloquently about? I'm starting to think that way.

The DOPA issue on it's own has received wide coverage, however, in the edu-blogs (eg. leigh , graham , wil , doug )

Teachers already using blogs are naturally concerned when they are blocked or threatened. But it seems that teachers who are not yet using blogs are not concerned at the erosion of freedom in cyberspace.

Nice quote from artichoke at leigh's blog:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C S Lewis
Good quote from Wil's site:
"... DOPA does nothing to strengthen penalties orincrease prosecution of criminals who prey on children. Instead, it punishes the potential victims and educational institutions chartered to serve them, by denying access to interactive sites at school and libraries"
Of course, we already have DOPA implemented in South Australia and it stinks.

1 comment:

Tony Forster said...

"I was underwhelmed and don't see much point in continuing to post messages raising these broader issues when the response is either muted or negative."

If you get no reply, it could be because
a) they think you're nuts but are too polite to say so
b) they don't care
c) they agree but you have covered it so well, there is nothing they can add.

In my case its c. The DOPA act astounds me, banning MySpace etc from public libraries by a landslide majority. Where was the voice of dissent. Are the pollies that out of touch.