More Proof that Schools Operate Like Prisons



One of, if not the greatest goal I have in my daily teaching is the desire for my students to wake up on a school day without feeling negative about attending school. In my view, happy students have the best possible chance of achieving their potential and it is my task to oversee a happy classroom.

But I am just a teacher. I don’t make the rules or pass the laws, so my mission has its obstacles and impediments. Most of these challenges come in the form of rigid prison-like rules imposed on students governing things such as who they can play with at recess and when they can be permitted to go to the toilet.

And now comes an even more astonishing rule that if imposed, will further reinforce the popular notion that school is a harsh and uncompromising place:

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has backed the right of schools to use fingerprint scanners to track whether kids are skipping class.

Several public schools are using hi-tech scanners to record when students enter and leave school across the state.

“I think that’s a good thing because it reflects our policy of ‘local schools, local decisions’, which enables schools to make decisions that meet the needs of their communities,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters on Friday

Asked whether he had any privacy concerns, the premier said the decision to use the technology was ultimately a matter for individual schools.

“If school communities want to make decisions, whether about the opening hours of schools or whether about these sorts of issues, I’m happy to back them,” Mr O’Farrell said.

Civil Liberties Australia have concerns over fingerprint scanning students.

“We support proper use of new technology, but this development has inherent dangers which should be evaluated by schools, their governing bodies and parents,” Civil Liberties Australia chief executive officer Bill Rowlings said.

“Schools and education authorities must put robust rules in place for how technology is used and administered, and the data safeguarded.

“A scan on arrival just tells you who passed through the school gates on the way in.

“The only way to ensure a child is at school all day is to fingerprint the student every half hour.

“So pretty soon children will be scanned into every classroom, every separate facility within the school grounds.

“If that is done, suddenly schools will become mini-surveillance states.”


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One Response to “More Proof that Schools Operate Like Prisons”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    Police state tactics have no place in schools.

    Once when I was giving a demonstration lesson for a teacher who was having problems with class control a student arrived late, apologised and explained briefly and I directed him to his seat. No problem. Suddenly the class teacher became animated. “Where’s your late note?” she demanded and proceeded to disrupt what was promising to become an interesting lesson.

    I thought to myself, “Well damn me, if a 14 year old kid can’t apologise for and explain being late without all this fuss over a piece of paper what’s it coming to?”

    So much of this sort of bullying is rife in schools and greatly detracts from the educational function of the school. I have seen hundreds of this sort of scenario played out in many schools in this country and it seems to me a good reason for children to hate school.

    Surely the spirit of education is an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery not a forced march with threats and sanctions for not complying with petty, nitpicking rules. No wonder so many students disengage.

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