I’ve been following the media coverage about the call from the Professional Association of Teachers for sites like YouTube to be closed – because they say they encourage bullying and harassment of teachers.
Both of these are extremely serious issues – but the idea that closing YouTube is the answer causes me two concerns: (a) is it really a solution? and (b) is a complete closing of YouTube an over-the-top reaction (even to horrific individual cases)?
The risk with media coverage of course often is that the details aren’t got quite right – so I went to see what the teachers themselves had said. I have to say – in all honesty – their arguments didn’t persuade me.
The Observer had a good round up story last weekend – but in it one teacher complained that they couldn’t complain against an inappropriate film because they weren’t a member of YouTube. Well – it’s only a matter of a few minutes to become a member and you don’t need to pay anything. Wouldn’t it be better if teachers were members of YouTube and made proper use of its channels for reporting things rather than say, “I’m not a member, so I can’t do anything proper, so the whole site must be closed”? I know this might sound very critical – but if you’re going to ask for the closure of one of the biggest websites (and one that is used for all sorts of funny, entertaining, educational and wonderful purposes – along with all the dodgy stuff) I think you need to really work at using the alternative avenues first.
The union’s website also has the full text of some speeches made in the debate. There were some horrible examples given of abuse – and my heart goes out to those on the receiving end of it – but again there wasn’t any real case made that closing YouTube would really solve the problem or is an appropriate solution. No real case as to how YouTube was failing in its current policies or how they could be improved for the future. And no real case that the existence of YouTube was making the problem worse.
So – if you’re a teacher and agree with what the union said, you’d better get in touch to persuade me to change my mind!
UPDATE: I’ve got an online poll here.