Acceptable Use Committee

I made the mistake of joining the committee regarding the Acceptable Use policy of the district.

"We need kids to know about Pencil Predators."

"Oh, I heard about that.  They send notes to kids and then lure them in."

"Nice, what else?" our leader scribbles away at her tablet.  

"Teach kids not to tear the goddam paper," a man says.

"Please, these are Victorian times," a woman says.

"This is a the U.S.A.  I'll use whatever goddam language I choose.  Just add the part about tearing paper."

"What if the goal isn't acceptable?" I ask.

They stare at me blankly.

"Yeah, what if it's about being ethical instead?"

"Okay, well anymore ideas?" the woman says.

"I'm not done.  Why are we even here?" I ask.

"To craft an Acceptable Use policy."

"Yes, but numbers are used to marginalize people and we don't have an Acceptable Use policy for math.  And kids get hurt in P.E.  Where's the policy for that?  Then, there's language art.  If we're really serious about the art of language and the power words possess, why don't we have an Acceptable Use policy for that?  Come to think of it, people have been abusing science to justify Social Darwinism and history is often used to justify injustice.  So, why don't we create Acceptable Use policies for those subjects?"

The leader misses my point and says, "I think that's a brilliant idea.  I'll bring that back to my supervisor. We should have Acceptable Use policies for all subjects."

Or we could teach students to be ethical critical thinkers.


  1. perhaps we should ban pencils too! They are sharp you know...

  2. Boundaries in internet use must made just the same as general classroom rules. Teaching ethical behavior alone will not keep students from abusing powers. If so, there would be no bullies, thieves or trouble makers.

  3. In very classroom there are rules. They are set up to keep the student from doing things that they should not be doing. This is also true for the internet. There are so many things out there that students should not have access to during there time at the school. For example facebook and myspace are blocked at most schools. But so many students know how to work around the blocker. However rules are put into play to help our students. With out rules our classrooms would be in trouble.

  4. @ Kyle - So true!

    @ Joshua - I have very few rules in my class. I agree they need to exist, but I also think rules aren't the cause of thieves, bullies or trouble makers. A rule helps clarify the ethical framework. However, ultimately it's a change in beliefs and in the human heart that produces lasting change.

    @ Ashleigh - In my class, we have three rules (very vague): be respectful, be safe, work hard. I wouldn't even consider them rules. More like guiding principles. However, we have a smooth running class, because of the procedures and the clarity of academic expectations.

  5. Hey Mr. Spencer,

    My name is Brittni Sasser and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I think it is great that you have very few rules in your classroom, yet your class still runs smooth. I think with the Internet we do have to be careful in protecting our students. But there are certain ways in which we learn to do this.

    If you would like to check out my blog, click here!

  6. Hello Mr. Spencer,
    My name is Hoan Nguyen and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I just read your post regarding to the rules you have in your classroom, I think it's a great idea to set out some rules and restrictions. There are so many things out there that students need to stay away from such as internet and cellphones. Students are more likely to get distracted if they use Facebook or Myspace during school hours which will interfere with their learning time. However, it seems like your class is going very smooth and neat!

  7. Hello Mr. Spencer,
    My name is Kathleen Lemoine and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I agree that there should be much more emphasis on teaching students to think critically and ethically. I believe that the ethical part is left out all too often, leading to people shaping the facts they learn into things to prove their point or to meet their goals. This leads to the abuse of history, science, and many other subjects as well.

  8. But if we don't have an acceptable use policy students might actually learn how to use the real internet they have at home!