In None We Trust

I wonder how many teachers would be prepared to gather all their students together at a school assembly sometime and say the following to them …

“Look, we just need you all to know that we do NOT trust you. We’ve talked about it, and we think that given the opportunity, you will all get up to no good and make poor decisions. Because of this, we plan to closely monitor your every move and to make sure that you don’t get away with anything, ever. We plan to prevent you from doing common tasks that are probably perfectly fine and safe. However, since we are, after all, assuming that you won’t be able to make your own good decisions about those things, we have taken the liberty of making those decisions for you.

Essentially, we think you are all a bunch of thieves, cheats and liars with no sense of morals or ethics, and you probably spend all your time looking at pornography anyway. We have no intentions of assuming anything other than the worst… as I said, we really just don’t trust you.

Thank you, that is all. You may now go to class.”

Nah, we’d never do that to our kids, would we?

Now, here’s your locked-down school-supplied laptop. Have a nice day.

CC BY-SA 4.0 In None We Trust by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

13 Replies to “In None We Trust”

  1. I had the distinct pleasure of following a teacher at another school around one day while he was trying to make a video of teachers saying “We Trust You” for an assembly on healthy use of digital devices and services.

    It was an unbelievable experience. More than half of the teachers outright refused. Most of the rest hemmed and hawed, talking out their justification for whether they really DID trust the students. Some then also refused, and some did say it, but with reservations. This is in a progressive Independent School, mind you.

  2. Wow. Thats, um… just wow.

    I really don’t know what else to say to that. Great story Dan, thanks for sharing it. I’m quite literally a bit speechless about it.

  3. Nothing much has changed. I built what was known as Global Teacher/Global Student in 2005 and promoted the use of blogs as a form of connectivity. As I traveled all over the state working promoting the healthy use of technology I was met by a lot of resistance from teachers and bureaucrats who were terrified of the things that could go terribly wrong. But, those who took the baton and ran with it have done some wonderful work. Hawkesdale P-12 and Fitzroy North Primary were two schools who did some fabulous work.

  4. With your permission I would like to take this to the next level. I work for a school that locks down teacher access to tools and makes them jump through unreasonable hoops, in my opinion. I would like your permission to take your words and covert them into a digital story that coveys this message. Not just about students but faculty tool. Please reply to my email address. Thanks.

    1. Michael, knock yourself out. Everything on this blog is shared under a Creative Commons BY SA license, so feel free to use it under those terms (ie, acknowledge where it came from, and keep sharing it). So yes, permission granted. 🙂

      I’d love to read whatever you turn it into…

      As for locking down teacher laptops, it’s incredibly frustrating.

      From an IT management perspective, there are a couple of valid reasons why laptops should have at least some degree of “lockdown” in place. Antivirus, version control, unauthorised or illegal software, etc, are some of the reasons that IT departments do this stuff. Managing a fleet of computers will always be a delicate balancing act between the security needs of the enterprise and the freedoms of the individuals.

      The problem arises when the balance is too far one way or the other. In some places, restrictions are wound up so tight that they start to get in the way of actual productive work, and that, IMO, is a problem. IT loves doing it of course, as it means less trouble for them. Schools need to remember that the point of having computers in education is not to make the lives of the IT guys easy, but to make the learning potential greater for the students. (and staff)

      At my school, here’s how we handle that… All staff are issued with a laptop that has all the software they would reasonably be expected to need. As well as that, software can be added by users by going to a “self installation” page on our network where they can just click an application they want and it silently installs on the machine. It works well. Staff don’t have local admin rights, so can’t add software by the usual installation process. By and large, this meets the needs of most staff who don’t want to spend time looking after their machine, they just want it to work. (I’d suggest that it’s very difficult to encourage innovators this way however)

      For a small number of our staff who have proven themselves to be a little more tech-savvy, they can request to have all the restrictions taken off their machine, and be given full local admin access. They can install software, delete stuff, try new apps, basically anything they want. They are responsible for their own backups and file management.

      The proviso is that if they screw up their computer, they can bring it back to IT and have it imaged back to a standard configuration. IT won’t reinstall their exotic software or try to salvage their lost files. They will give them back a working, standard laptop that has all the base software that everyone else gets. If there is tears and crying about lost work, they might also provide a box of Kleenex, but that’s about it. You took the risk of having full control of your computer, so you also have to wear the responsibility as well.

      As far as I’m aware, this system works quite well. Those people who want more control can have it as long as they wear the additional responsibility that comes with that control.

      Interestingly, most of the edtech innovation in our school also comes from this minority who manage their own machines (although to be fair, they were granted that access because they were already tech savvy.

  5. Hi Chris

    Thanks for this…very succinct and powerful piece. It is the same for teachers…if they don’t have a level of administration rights for the devices they teach with, we are saying we don’t trust them either -perpetuating a power base that in this efficient and economic world can’t be sustained anyway.

    I’ve linked to this off my regional blog…trying to get the message out.

    Thanks again,

  6. Act with integrity. That’s what I keep telling m yGrade Two students. It seems to work. They do wonder about the Blue Reef message that told them their Edublogs class blog was blocked though!
    Thanks for an enjoyable and thought-provoking read,as always.

  7. Thoughtful piece, Chris, and in the main I agree, but a little bit of me asks if there’s a significant difference between this and…

    I wonder how many teachers would be prepared to gather all their students together at a school assembly sometime and say the following to them…
    Look, we just need you all to know that we DO trust you. We’ve talked about it, and we think that given the opportunity, you will all make excellent decisions. Because of this, we plan to stock the canteen with all the usual healthy options, but in addition we will now be stocking lollies, chips, soft drink and other party foods. We won’t monitor your consumption of these products as we are confident that you will make excellent choices and that most of these items will be thrown in the bin once it reaches its expiry date. We acknowledge that the former system of not allowing you to purchase junk food through the canteen was wrong – after all, you are perfectly capable of monitoring your consumption of sugary and salty foods. For those of you over the age of 18, you young adults will not be chastised for smoking, as long as, because of legal requirements, it is done outside the school grounds. We are confident you won’t make this poor choice but acknowledge that it is your legal prerogative.
    As a society we make choices on behalf of others. We always have. Are you arguing that we should allow students access to rotten dot com or the old ogrish site and then encourage them not to? Of course you don’t; I am sure your school doesn’t provide completely unrestricted internet access… why not?
    As always, thanks for getting my thought process going, Chris.

  8. Hey Chris,

    Provocative post. The online acceptable usage policy I devised with a fellow-coetailer takes a different approach. Our take was about promoting important conversations to give parents, teachers and children an informed base from which to let them make these decisions.

    I will post the link in another post as I am afraid of leaving this comment on my iPhone and losing it!

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