I wrote to the NSW Minister for Education, she hasn’t replied yet.  Could be because I emailed instead of using  traditional methods?  Maybe I should send it to Julia too.  I’ve spoken to a few parents about this and a couple of teachers.  I’d really like to hear what you think about the filters in NSW public schools.  Here’s what I wrote …

Dear Minister

I am writing to request a serious review of the internet filtering policy in place in NSW public schools.  I also want; an explanation of how NSW public school students are learning about new ways to research, and, a definition of the digital education revolution.

My children tell me they can’t use any of the new visual search engines that are becoming available everyday on the internet at school – they are blocked (eg; spezify.com).  This means they have to rely on me at home to help them work out which website is accurate and relevant to the topic they are researching.  I enjoy getting involved in their learning and I can certainly help them decide what to do with objectionable content but I can’t help them decide which physics/english/geography websites are the ones they need.  I really want them in a classroom talking about it (online or off) with one (or more) subject experts taking part in the discussion and advising/leading where necessary.  I think they need as many people around them as possible when they’re trying to work out whether the person talking to them online really is a physicist/interested person/predator – they don’t get that in their bedroom, which is why their computers are in the lounge room, but when it comes to their education, I need them talking to, and showing their teachers what they have found.

I understand there are many more sites blocked than just search engines and the policy is to block anything we don’t know about.  I have to ask how we expect our public school students (and teachers) to stay abreast of and take advantage of new technologies.  It now does seem like the laptop program is just about getting votes.  I was really excited when I found out my kids were getting laptops but now it seems they’re just being treated as electronic exercise books.  Where is the revolution?  I am particularly concerned that children in catholic and independent schools are not subject to the same filters.  I applaud those schools for embracing technology but I am worried about the disadvantage to my public school kids.  Can you tell me how public school teachers are able to provide the same guidance on researching online that catholic and independent schools can?

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