Friday, January 10, 2014

Schools Hate Internet Freedom

As a lifelong resident of the Detroit area it saddens me that 70% of students within the Detroit city limits lack any Internet connection at home, this also most likely means that they lack Technology skills that are NECESSARY for them to exist in the current economic climate. I have no desire to go into the clusterfuck that is every aspect of Detroit Public Schools, but there is a way to disrupt that system that is leaving so many kids disadvantaged, and that is Broadband Internet Access for all at home. The sooner the well-meaning citizens figure out that teachers, administrators and government officials either really don't care or are burned out about educating the youth, the sooner they can be more open minded to how Internet access can help to change this.

To think that the public education sector and many private sectors don't have a hand in trying to block things like this from happening would be incredibly naive. School districts continue to pay MILLIONS of dollars yearly to the fucking evil Textbook industry for information that can easily be found on the Internet for free, Telecom companies continue to charge ridiculously unfair prices for Internet access (And why isn't Internet Access considered a Public Utility?), Content Control Software developers make MILLIONS on school district contracts to provide an extremely easy to bypass content blocking system and these are only a few of the obvious money pits that Public Schooling ultimately gets involved in. The cause of this is lack of education, community apathy, out of touch administrators, resistance to change and greedy corporate scumbags.

One of my favorite things about my University experience was hearing almost every professor explain how inaccurate and bad Wikipedia is for the educational process, at the time I knew they were speaking out of ignorance and history has proven just how right I was. I'm not sure if they felt this way because they were old and didn't bother trying to understand how and why it works or if they felt threatened as educators by a free online service aimed at providing quick and easy information on anything. The accuracy of Wikipedia has been seen as equal or superior to the Academic Superpower of Encyclopedia Britannica, while the methods used to measure this are hardly enough to state this definitively, it's clear it is more accurate than not because many in the Wiki community take it very seriously. I consider Wikipedia to be one of humankind's greatest creations, yet many of those in Education still give the simplistic argument of "can't anyone edit it?" not realizing that is the entire reason it works.

I'm a frequent Wikipedia editor and contributor as I believe that currently information and knowledge only have a perceived economic value and no actual economic value. Educating oneself used to require attending a school or University, purchasing expensive journals owned and sold through said Universities, purchasing books or going to a Library with a finite information, but this is clearly no longer the case. Don't get it twisted, the classroom setting works for many many people and shouldn't be abandoned, but the fact that smarter and cheaper supplements to this educational format aren't used is foolish and creating many many problems.

My previous example of the continued use of textbooks to provide knowledge is emblematic of the apathetic, self-serving attitude of those in charge of education in America. They are out of date, contain archaic and hard to understand explanations of relatively simple concepts and often do not provide any original thought or material.

When I tell people I learned significantly more from the Internet than I ever did at any point in school, I often get weird confused looks that someone can learn something in a different way than they did. Recently I was researching Sierpinski Triangles and I came across an amazing page that explains a very complicated subject in a contemporary and interesting way. Note the description of a mathematical format as the "straight ballin'" form, something that would appall traditional Academia but actually makes the subject more relatable to the average reader. The topic is not the easiest to understand without a bit of background in mathematics, but the fact this incredible information would never be presented in a classroom setting is the problem.

All of this comes down to one thing, and it's one of the ideals I hold most valuable, that is it is the Earth's benefit for the Internet to remain 100% free of censorship, regulation and profit.

Edward Snowden made a claim that "the Internet is the most important invention in all of human history" and explained how much it meant to him and changed his life, I share the same views. The Internet expanded my mind and made me think about things in new ways I never would have otherwise. Living in America is weird because those in charge are so out of touch with the opinions of those they govern, especially those of another generation. The institutional power structure of these groups are constantly threatened by the openness of a Free Internet so it is in their best interest to stifle that when at all possible.

Remember how many people demonized Snowden and used his age as a reason, there is a war on youth and the Internet and it's up to the outspoken to convince those who aren't a part of this culture that the value is too important to give up on.

No comments:

Post a Comment