From Cory Doctorow:
Cory Doctorow at 10:00 PM Wednesday, Oct 20, 2010
Fairfax County, VA’s Westfield High has a curious set of requirements in three of its AP History class:
“You are only allowed to use your OWN knowledge, your OWN class notes, class handouts, your OWN class homework, or The Earth and Its Peoples textbook to complete assignments and assessments UNLESS specifically informed otherwise by your instructor.”That was not all. Students could not use anything they found on the Internet. They were not permitted even to discuss their assignments with friends, classmates, neighbors, parents, relatives or siblings.
What about complete strangers? The teachers had thought of that. “You may not discuss/mention/chat/hand signal/smoke signal/Facebook/IM/text/email to a complete stranger ANY answers/ideas/questions/thoughts/opinions/hints/instructions.” The words were playful, but the teachers were serious. Any violations, they said, would mean a zero on the assignment and an honor code referral.
Fundamentally, these teachers have prohibited doing any kind of outside work, having any productive discussion with your friends and family that might connect the history you’re learning with the world you’re living in. They have reduced education to absorbing and regurgitating a specific set of facts, divorcing it from any kind of critical thinking, synthesis, or intellectual rigor.
Parents have complained to the principal, who “will decide soon whether these rules are okay.”