Letter to a Parent

Not directed at anyone in particular…

Dear Parent,

You are, first of all, the type of caring parent every child needsleaping child and deserves. You want what is best for your son or daughter’s healthy growth and bright and happy future. You wish to protect them from as much of the harmful, ugly badness that permeates so much of the world. Thank you for loving your child so much–such attitudes produce strong, successful students!

Recently, you discovered that your child’s school has the Internet, and even more shocking, you found that anyone could get into YouTube through a simple search. You also quickly tested the site and found that objectionable videos could be accessed by merely typing in the right search term. Justifiably, you are very concerned about this scenario. You wonder how a school can allow such potential harm to befall its students. You even begin to consider what steps might be taken to remove this horrible threat. Should other parents be recruited and organized?

Before you go farther in your commendable zealousness to protect your child, please consider several points in favor of keeping such a frightening site unblocked.

  1. Educational content. YouTube has thousands upon thousands of outstanding educational clips and full-length videos, from such reputable producers as NASA, National Geographic, and the BBC. It is an excellent resource for today’s student to find videos that supplement written materials in their research. Taking this to an even loftier perch, YouTube EDU now offers actual videos of courses being taught at the biggest and best universities on the planet. You’re child can begin learning from Ivy League teachers while in elementary school!
  2. Global connections. YouTube allows users to create personal accounts and channels. A teacher might use such a channel, for instance, to share student videos with a world-wide, authentic audience. A viewer in China might be provoked to leave a comment or ask a question, leading to real dialogue between students on opposite sides of the earth. It happens everyday!
  3. Creativity. YouTube offers students a place to become inspired and motivated to express their own creativity. It also offers a unique and very relevant platform for putting their creativity on display. Creativity, it is fair to say, is a skillset that receives far too little attention in classes today, yet is vital to student success and opportunity beyond the classroom.
  4. Digital wisdom. Filters, vigilant teachers, and monitoring software work wonderfully in our district to create an atmosphere that discourages or even prevents students from getting into “trouble” while using the Internet. These tools are worthless, however, when the student is on his own. At home, at the library, at a friends house…these are the places where research shows a student is far more likely to experience harmful or inappropriate content on the Internet. By teaching responsible use and allowing enough freedom for students to demonstrate integrity while online, schools become partners in bringing up young people who will use the Web safely and respond appropriately when danger appears. Research also has demonstrated the value of such an approach over tightly locking down the Internet filter.

Most of all, please remember that we love and care for your child, too. Our goals are similar to your own, and we wish nothing more than to see your young man or woman grow up happy, healthy, and safely. We also wish for them to be successfully able to cope with the evolving, increasingly digital stream of information and communication that they will be faced with, and we believe being proactively educational is preferred to simply locking the gates to keep the wolves out. Part of being a citizen in this century is knowing how to utilize its vast resources ethically and responsibly, and we wish to be a partner in assuring that.

Sincerely,

Your Child’s School

3 Comments

  1. I think this is great! In our district not only do parents need to get this letter, but some of our teachers and administrators as well.

  2. Very true, Paul. Had a great conversation with a colleague from Canada this evening about the fear and ignorance that holds us and our children back. The old saying that education opens doors is very relevant to what we do.

  3. I am scheduled to have a conversation with a parent about this very issue. Thanks for the good information. I do think we need to send this out to every parent in a proactive move.

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