Schools Ban Outside Help

Whether it be teachers’ and principals’ egocentrism, bitter sentiment of not having the Internet and other resources while they were in school or simply wanting students to spend more time on homework, some have banned their students from any and all outside sources on homework assignments, according to an article in the Washington Post.

              This means students cannot look to the Internet, other students, their parents, other textbooks, or even possibly a private tutor to complete homework assignments or seek further knowledge.

            At Westfield High School, in Virginia, three Advanced Placement World History teachers told their students, “You are only allowed to use your OWN knowledge, your OWN class notes, class handouts, your OWN class homework, or ‘The Earth and Its Peoples’ textbook to complete assignments and assessments UNLESS specifically informed otherwise by your instructor,” according to the article. Students here cannot even use a private history tutor that they have been previously working with.

            “Expectations of integrity,” is the term these teachers and principals are hiding behind. But Jay Mathews from the Washington Post argues this is a failed attempt to prevent students from cheating, making learning more difficult for students. After all, the purpose of school is to help students learn, not limit them to specific textbooks or prevent cheating.

            Mathews further argues that, “out of fear of cheating, they (certain teachers and principals) have outlawed curiosity.” This notion takes away any additional information a student could stumble across on the Internet or any other books, only in hopes of preventing cheating or cutting research time in half by using the Internet.

            Mathews believes students should be encouraged to seek outside sources and find answers to questions unanswered by their textbook or class notes. This notion prohibits that.

            Not even the best textbooks contain “all” the information. However, students using every possible source, including what Google can find in less than a second, are creating extra connections between different forms of material, enhancing their overall learning experiences.

            Many parents do not view their helping with their children’s homework a hindrance to their learning. In fact, it was probably a combination of mom and dad that helped many students learn their early addition and subtraction tables. Some parents, depending on their expertise or knowledge in certain areas, can actually be the best teachers for the students.

            Private tutors can offer professional one-on-one time not found in the classroom, which can help a student better learn and grasp content. Yet, certain teachers want to deprive their students from tutors and all outside sources, for the sake of encouraging them to think independently and avoid cheating. But at what cost? A student’s education and overall learning?

            If a history teacher tries to ban you from asking your parents if they know anything about the Vietnam War, ask your parents, ask your grandparents, read your textbook, read other textbooks, seek tutoring and by all means type it into Google. For all your teacher knows, you very well could know someone who was actually involved in the Vietnam War.