Teachable Moment…Blocked?

"Isle of the Dead" by hkoppdelaney

A quick little note: my students are looking for words inspired by the names of the Greek/Roman gods and goddesses. One student wondered if “hate” was derived from the name Hades (seems to fit, I guess). As I often do, I avoided giving him a direct answer and said he should look it up. But when he Googled “hate,” we discovered that searching explicitly for this term was blocked by the school’s web filters.

While I understand the rationale the powers-that-be would share about this example (avoiding hate sites, for example), I’m not sure I agree with it. It’s hard to teach students how to find informationand evaluate sources when something is so swiftly blocked – especially when it’s a general search term. I would think that seeing the daunting variety of results to his search would be a good opportunity to talk about how to refine searches. Instead, the web filters block both the search results and a teachable moment.

Of course, I’m just a lowly teacher; what do I know?

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2 responses to “Teachable Moment…Blocked?

  • Crystal

    I think that while rare ocassions like this happen, it’s still necessary to have a general rule of blocking content.

    Besides, I would take this as an even bigger teachable moment… other than google or internet searching, how else might a student be able to discover the relationship or lack of between hate and hades. Did the student stop to think and analyze other methods by which to find this information? Did they consider going to dictionary.com and there searching for hades or hate and seeing what comes up? (or are those also blocked) did they consider going to the library and looking in a real, touchable dictionary? what about being creative with their searches like searching “word derivations” something along those lines.

    I think that one of the best things we can teach our students is how to find their own answers–and this isn’t limited to using technology to do it. The Internet/Search Engines greatly increased our ability to intake and access information, but we should remember that it isn’t our only source, nor should it ever be.

  • Jennifer

    I have also had numerous teachable moments blocked by my school’s web filter. I have a school issued laptop for myself and the students use separate laptops and computers. I wish there was some way to block the students from certain sites, but allow teachers to use them. Sometimes, I try to Google something on my laptop and it is blocked. Even though this can be very frustrating, I am grateful that the web filters exist at school. I feel like things could get very ugly if students had unlimited access. If we have problems accessing something in school, I suggest that they try later at home. Also, if there is a specific website that I would like to use in school and it is blocked, I e-mail the web administrator to see if he will unblock it for me.

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