Schools Should Not Block YouTube

YouTube, in my opinion, is the hidden gem of education. It’s hidden, not because people don’t know it exists or what it can do.  On the contrary, everyone and their dog is aware of the diverse clips that YouTube contains.  It’s hidden because many schools, including until recently my own, have chosen to block it. The reason for this is fairly understandable – YouTube contains clips which are clearly unsuitable for children.

Whilst this is true, there is too much to be gained by exposing children to the wealth of educational opportunities that exist on YouTube to justify blocking it.

The other day I wanted to buy a phone.  I had a few in mind, but didn’t posses the technological nous to help me find something that would best give me value for money and fulfill my practical needs. So I did what many do when they can’t make their mind up about something – I asked YouTube.  On YouTube I watched clips on the various phones, was given a run through of their features, advantages, design and reliability issues etc.

This helped me settle on a phone.  But my education didn’t stop there.  As I am a visual learner, I require more than just a booklet to follow.  To set up my phone and navigate my way through the different functions I turned to my dear friend, YouTube, who again, didn’t let me down.

YouTube is the modern-day instructive tool. It clearly and carefully teaches people practical skills in language they can understand. It plays the part of teacher.

At the moment I am teaching my 5th Graders about finding the lowest common denominator before adding and subtracting fractions. As a test, before writing this blog post, I typed some key words into a YouTube search and came up with many fine online tutorials on this very skill that kids can readily access.  It shouldn’t replace the teacher, but it can certainly help a child pick up a concept.

And it’s not just academic skills that can be developed through YouTube.  If my school hadn’t relaxed its position on YouTube, I wouldn’t have had the chance to show my students the best anti-bullying film going around. I have come across so many lame and unconvincing films about bullying in my time. So to first find Mike Feurstein’s masterful film, and then get the chance to show the movie to my appreciative class, was a major coup for my ongoing efforts in trying to keep my classroom bully free.  The film, posted below is as good a reason as any to allow teachers to use YouTube in the classroom.

Sure teachers have to be on the lookout for students who may exploit this privilege, but ultimately that is our job. If we banned everything that has possible risks or negative outcomes, we wouldn’t have much to work with at all.



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8 Responses to “Schools Should Not Block YouTube”

  1. Michael Parrales Says:

    Reblogged this on Michael Parrales.

  2. Mike Feurstein Says:

    Thank you for the kind mention, again!

    I read your blog every time it’s posted, embedded in my emails. But, ironically, your website is blocked at my school because it falls under the “blog” category. So I can rarely respond. I’m on my break and at my home office right now, so I was able to post this response. But isn’t that funny…

    Here you are an advocate for sane, responsible and respectful schools and school policies, and yet you’re blocked from being interacted with by teachers while they’re in school. Go figure!

    By the way, I agree wholeheartedly: I teach a turnaround program with media-oriented PBL and it helps to be able to use YouTube to show real-life examples of our current projects (newscasts, PSAs, commercials, vlogs). Doesn’t help when we have to put in requests every day to have YouTube unblocked…again!

    Even SchoolTube is blocked at my school! “Streaming Media” Category. Perish the thought!

    • Michael G. Says:

      That’s very ironic Mike! How is the bystanders film going? Can’t wait to see it!

      • Mike Feurstein Says:

        We’re partway through scripting, but the entire concept is complete. We’ve done casting within the school, had a huge turnout. Good thing most of the movie takes place in the cafeteria and playground! (Gotta love that “unstructured” time… it’s a petri dish for Bystander situations!)

        I meet with the kids again on Dec 8th to do test scenes and start figuring out who takes the leads and who does the vignettes. We’ve got a major audience now, so expectations are high! 🙂

        Thanks for asking! How is your classroom? Bully free? Halfway there?

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  4. barbganias Says:

    I realize I’m very late to comment on this post — and I would hope that more and more districts are relaxing their rules about YouTube and the internet, in general, but the other reason to not ban YouTube and everything that could somehow derail kids is that kids eventually must learn to separate wheat from chaff — and they don’t learn to do that by magic. They learn to do that by careful examination of material under the guidance of a skillful teacher. Thanks for your post.

  5. pensiamentopeligroso Says:

    If Google and Baidu can censor searches of a politically incorrect nature, then it seems only reasonable that schools could censor You Tube searches in the areas of perversion, incitement to riot, pornography sedition etc., but then, as we all know, youth tends to create an underground language known only to the initiates, and they could probably circumvent the censorship. To coin a British phrase – It’s a sticky wicket.

  6. CARL R D'Agostino Says:

    My school finally got computers in early 90’s on a wide scale and there were about 20 in the library designated for student use and research. But some very talented geeks were able to by-pass blocks and get into all kinds of forbidden stuff. Principal was such a control freak she had most of these set up so the only use could be for practice tests and learning skills for the state and county testing. I was so happy my AP students could finally do some real research as I worked with them on essay and term paper skills with references and citations and that whole possibility was shut down. Three were set aside for teacher use but with a faculty of over 150 I never got to use one.

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