National Public Radio’s Fresh Air segment on The Inquisition is an interview with Cullen Murphy, author of God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. (National Public Radio, Fresh Air podcast. January 23, 2013)

In this interview Cullen talks about the Third Inquisition, or the “Roman Inquisition” and how it occurred due not just in reaction to the Protestant Reformation, but the revolution brought about by the printing press.  This author made mention of the reaction of the governing agent of the time, The Church, to the influx of the written word from Gutenberg’s Press: “If only we could just stop the presses for a just one year we could make the corrections and regain control”  In the context of the time this was a reaction to the printed word using inappropriate/unapproved of terminology/words, perceived misinformation for an audience not able to full comprehend what they were consuming, and according to the authors implications an end-run around control that The Church enjoyed at the time.

  • How do teachers react to students getting on the Internet?

I think back on how I first guided student to Internet resources.  I gave them a specific URL; a hopelessly long URL, forgive me 1998 4/5th graders.  I wanted them to only view the information I deemed appropriate.  I probably did not trust them on the search engines of the day, but do remember modelling use of Ask Jeeves.

  • Filtering not on the Infrastructure, but taught as a lifelong tool for students entering an ever increasingly complex world

How ironic that before CIPA when I could have allowed them a guided experience on the Internet, free of the dreaded Access Denied screen, I was so narrow.  And now hyper-compliant CIPA regulators are blocking site I intentionally use/recommend to educate.

I think my experience is typical in that I allowed my fear, or lack of knowledge, to limit student learning.  Not so much that the Internet was that informative for elementary students in the late 90s, but that I did not help them learn how to evaluate information/sources/biases.

  • What will it take to make an older generation seeing the current set of information from the point of view of the younger generation?

Technology to a teacher may not be technology to a student.  If a technology was present before you were born it is not technology to you.  So, while my first Internet experience from home included the dial-up screech, the Internet is not technology to many of our students.

Teachers first need to embrace the fact that they are not the experts, keepers, or editors of the Internet.  Once relieved of that duty realize a teacher should be teaching how to filter the Internet.  This is not a physical filter, like a piece of software which attempts to block specific websites, but a mental filter.  When the student understands how to evaluate a piece of information for purpose, by the source, and potential biases that student is equipped to run into any information in the world with the right tools.  And the teacher can sanction that with confidence.  Even if the governing body of the time does not.

National Public Radio, Fresh Air podcast. January 23, 2013