The totalitarian state of education Digital wall gardens or impregnable fortresses?

Totalitarianism is a ruling system where a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life. Totalitarianism is generally characterized by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary individuals have less significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects of public and private life). Source: Wikipedia.

I am not talking about a former Soviet republic. I’m referring to the way most schools are run in this country.

Like most totalitarian states, schools generally take a hard line stance against the proliferation of new social media. As a result, like citizens in most totalitarian states, students soon find ways to circumvent the restrictions placed upon them and continue using social media under the radar.

The totalitarian school believes it is protecting its citizens, although, in reality, by choosing to ignore the ubiquity of social media in students’ daily lives, schools are simply creating the illusion of safety. In fact, many schools are simply looking the other way. They have chosen not to want to know.

Are their pupils safer or less safe as a result?

The advent of social media affords us some of the most exciting innovation in education in the last 100 years, yet it is generally regarded as a threat by teachers and administrators who are, at best, unaware of its possibilities or, at worst, paranoid about privacy and hysterical about sexual predation and bullying, even though our pupils are safer from these online than they are on the school bus.

Please feel free to pick holes in my argument. Your comments are  all very welcome.

Photo by agitprop


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  1. Like you, I really do not understand why schools don’t try to educate-students and staff-so that they are clear about what is safe, appropriate and good practice in terms of using social media in and out of school. Banning and blocking are no solutions-social media are not a craze that is going to go away…

  2. I have been railing against an (American) educational system that was developed in the industrialization era and to all extents and purposes not been ‘upgraded’ to fit this ‘new world’ that our students live in, the technology being only one part of the equation…

    I do not condone bullying nor exploitation…however, for the most part these are ‘teachable moments’ and should not be totally excluded from a holistic learning environment. Prohibition as a means of control has not and will not work.

Your feedback and comments are very welcome