By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor
For those of you not aware, last week was Banned Book Week. ALA's Banned Books website can provide more information. It seems timely that my district is anticipating another book challenge on a graphic novel, because with the context of real teenage girl conversation, the female protagonist mentions her boobs a couple of times and similar racy fare that would NEVER be permitted on prime time television [sarcastic sigh]. However, I think the need to continue to stand for free speech is illustrated by the recent actions of the Maldives Government, as reported in the Guardian. They plan to only allow "acceptable literature" to be published in the nation.
The free exchange of ideas is essential to freedom and intellectual growth. Access to digital resources and divergent thought is essential. James Madison, fourth president and primary author of the U.S. Constitution, once stated: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." This is as true today as it was in Madison's own time. However, with the sound-bite wars of the modern media, sometimes true knowledge is difficult to gather with all of the misinformation that floats through our world.
Nearly every culture and time period has seen efforts at censorship. One of the key goals of the IT department must be to provide access to information from all sides of an argument and to ensure students and staff learn to become thoughtful consumers of information. As we move from the two-minute news story to the 140-character news item as a standard, the ability to think for oneself and interpret data to create actual knowledge is essential. What are the library and IT staff of your schools doing to ensure that students become thoughtfully literate? A couple of good resources to help begin the journey to thoughtful literary include:
Ikpeze & Boyd's Web-based inquiry learning
The U.S. State Department's website for International English learners
The Center for the Book's more scholarly approach
Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning. Follow North Boone on Twitter @NBCUSD200.