So what do two disparate things, the site of an atomic test and Herman Melville’s novel, have in common? They are victims of Internet filtering software that takes decisions for the acceptability of web sites out of teachers’ hands.
In an interesting conversation about Internet censorship in schools, Mitch Wagner brought up several examples, some of which I heard and none of which surprised me. In the mid-90s, I had several conversations about control over filtering with the founders of a new start up called BESS which is now, under the name of McAffee SmartFilter, the filter of choice in many school districts.
My concern was over the word “breast” which had been filtered at my school but caused issues when students were researching “breast cancer.” I thought those multiple uses of the same term had been resolved.
Now Mitch is sharing examples he has gathered that demonstrate the issues have not been resolved. When students hit road blocks when researching bikini atoll or Moby Dick then filtering has become heavy handed.
I’d be interested to hear from others about their school’s filtering.