Censorship should not be used in Schools

Introduction

In the current world, students are facing various social related risks as a result of exposure to multiple books, film, and other media content that are not censored. At the same time, the urge to get informed and be prepared for the fast moving world is important. Censor of the learning materials and creative content has far reaching negative effects than gain. It would, therefore, be important for schools to stop the act of censor on students. The debate on censorship has elicited mixed reaction among scholars, learners, political leaders, and the society at large. In the wake of increased campaign for fundamental human rights, censorship has received mixed reactions. However, critical assessment of the contemporary social changes is a recipe to students’ protest against censorship. The content of the materials to be taught is under scrutiny to ensure that relevant knowledge is imparted on learners. On the other hand, opponents of censorship claim that it promotes suppression of creativity and cultivate malicious action of school management.

Discussion

The Internet revolution has changed the way of life including learning process. The government should, therefore, work with private sector and parents to replace censorship with an alternative. However, debating the advantage of school censorship on students should include logical analysis of different factors.

The constitutional position on bills of right is clear on the freedom of speech. It is ironical that the schools censor what the students should read and write. The education stakeholders are focused on frustrating freedom of speech among students which sets a bad precedence. The act of censoring learning material limits the students’ ability to explore various sources of information. Reichman asserts the demerits of censorship by arguing, “Although censors almost invariably claim to be defending American values, educational censorship is harmful precisely because it undermines those very democratic values of tolerance and intellectual freedom that our educational system must seek to instill” (4). In fact, the restrictions raise curiosity among many students and facilitate secretive attempts to access obscene or prohibited content. Considering the common acknowledgement of students as future leaders, it is hypocritical to infringe on their rights of expression through censoring.

The teaching fraternity is equally affected. Government instructions on selective syllabus content give teachers difficult time to plan for lessons. Besides, the censoring requirement is an additional workload as the teachers must equally take supervisory responsibility to monitor what students read, watch, and write. The overwhelming media influence provides mixed results in as much as what young people watch and read is concerned. It is therefore a futile attempt to address the syndrome rather than the diseases. Explosive social media and the multiple uncensored content presents a paradox when schools effect censoring in learning institutions. In an attempt to emphasize need for alternative method of addressing children problem with media, Hargrave and Livingstone explain that, “The feature that distinguishes screen from interactive media is the content that is not open to alteration by the decisions of the user” (54). The spirit of adventure and freedom of speech is a leeway to development of communication skills, stand up for what is right, and defend freedom of mind. Continued censoring of students is retrogressive as it suppresses individual potential to express dissatisfaction with various issues that interfere with learning and hamper progress in the society.

Censoring students is tantamount to totalitarianism. Learners are subjected to selective information without proper justification. A review of some previous landmark cases in the US emphasizes the sensitivity of censorship and the underlying risks.  For instance, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is one of the court cases that caught national attention in terms of the accusation and the ruling. In the argument of the church which was in favor of the students, the centrality of citizenship which include learners, and the precedence of freedom stood out. Sonja also expresses dissatisfaction with censorship by saying, “Punishing students for their speech robs our public debate of needed voices, and it teaches our children—who, of course, one day become adults—that censorship, even broad and sometimes arbitrary censorship, is acceptable” (“What Schools are Really Teaching Students When We Let Them Censor Their Speech”). In that regard, making decisions on what the students should read is a violation of their rights and negate the spirit of democracy for which they are expected to exercise in future. The need to give children information with positive messages is good. However, imposing restriction on the films, books, and articles impart a negative idea into the mind and as students grow to adulthood, they perpetuate this same vice. In fact, the much needed voice of protest against social injustices in the society is killed through censoring students. Such subjects as history narrate disheartening stories of political dictatorship, oppression of dissenting voices, and propagation of anarchy. The students therefore develop anxiety through associating censoring with such stories and make efforts to conform thereby developing the culture of brainwashing. The school should therefore offer counseling and guidance services as the best antidote against possible social deviants that may arise from obscene content.

The reality of morally unacceptable content lives with the contemporary society. The motive of censoring is therefore good but the method of execution is malicious. Limiting what students can read is government sanctioned weapon fashioned to subdue people with divergent views. In a vehement opposition to censorship, Waldron says “From this perspective it is not the threat to social order that is alarming, it is the massive power that government can deploy-that the government of this country has deployed in the past” (26). The students are the leaders of tomorrow and effecting censoring is a simple way of passing the same culture to the next generation with far reaching effects. The question that surrounds censoring is whether it is meant to disallow content with moral harm or it extends to perpetuate authoritative political ideology. Students have conscience, and if proper counseling measures are applied, the outcome would still work,. After all the censoring is limited  within the school and leaves the learners with craving desire to seek more outside and end up in undesirable situations. Censoring has been mistaken as the alternative to good parenting. Otherwise, proper parental care is enough to mitigate erotic behavior that children can learn from social and mainstream media.

While students write articles, their sense of creativity is hampered by routine editing of their work. School authorities frustrate the effort of students to express their unique ideas as long as it is considered as hurting to the management even if the issues addressed are true. Stifling expression of inner feelings subjects learners to retarded cognitive expansion under the fear of reprimand. Even religious groups are opposed to censorship as McCormick and Mairi state “It might well be considered wrong of the state, too, to enforce censorship if censorship could be shown to defeat its purpose and also to produce worse evil than those it tries to cure” (26). In fact, students that aspire to be journalists and media personalities face frustration of frequent revision of their content (Kern & David 72). In most cases, the young minds are innocent and address issues as they are. Such should be encouraged to promote social justice. Additionally, students’ original ideas are always distorted if the written content is edited to fit the desire of school administration. In essence, such actions breed civil disobedience that is a time bomb.

Conclusion

If the intention of the school is to prevent students from indulging in unlawful activities and become good citizens, there are alternative avenues, but not censoring. The spirit of rebellion is born among students as their dreams are shuttered under the foot of censorship. Comparative gains of censoring students versus otherwise need to be given further critical attention for the common interest of students, teachers, and the society. Censoring of students is retrogressive and should be abolished.

 

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