On the importance of teaching people how to learn for themselves, and in relation to the idea that graffiti is OK, I’d like to draw attention to the increasing ridiculousness (in my view) of the use of firewalls and network security in educational organisations.

Ever since I started working in education, firewalls and network security have been the bane of my existence! Every time I have wanted to do something innovative, different, or just experimental the same old endorsed paranoia always applies. Teachers can’t install software to try out, not even popular free and open software without first getting admin rights (which could be never). Students can just forget it! And then there’s what you can and can’t see on the Internet, according to some robot policing what students and teachers are looking at.

Recently I sent an email to the TALO eGroup with a link to Banksy’s latest stencil work on that recent wall that separates Israel from Palestine. Many in the TALO eGroup have to work under the iron curtain of education networks and it didn’t take long for one member to write back saying that he had been blocked access to the site, with the robot classifying it as crime! But as that TALO member said,

Had a look from outside the firewall – and think the site is really thought-provoking with some great images.

And then another responded,

When working inside an Institute, I was blocked from refugee action sites during the height of the children overboard/woomera actions. Also heard the wall is a hassle for nursing teachers, as female health sites can be difficult to access. Aaah, the vagaries of keyword based gate-keepers and net-nannies.

And yet another in the space of 5 minutes!

I just got this spam below through to me at work…I know there areobviouslyy different processes at play here….but kinda weird when cant look up an apartment but can get plenty of support with life enhancement. Emailreceivedd at 1210 today: You know you need it. The longer and thicker you are, the better everyone involved will be. Don’t delay on the world’s best solution for your problem. Make “it” work like a king today. Up-size it.

What is this beast of a thing clamping down on our work, our freedoms, our access, and failing where it was most needed?

Lately I have been keeping a phone line in my bag for when I visiting those poor people locked behind the curtain. I don’t even bother using their network when I arrive, I just pluggin to a spare phone line somewhere and use my dialup account to bypass the network. But sooner or later we have to stand up to this or it will becomeirreversiblyy worse.

So I’ve started a little bit of graffiti of my own on this wall. Anyone else who has some funny pictures, comics or what ever about institutional lock down, please save them to a flickr account and tag them “accessDETnied

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