Friday, September 21, 2007


A Riverhead football coach has been suspended for refusing to allow videotaping of his gym class. After Colombine, video cameras are thought by some to be necessary in auditoriums and gymnasiums. And it doesn't seem to end there:
Uniondale installed 162 cameras last year at its high school alone. Great Neck began installing about 250 cameras districtwide. Federal statistics show 60 percent of high schools nationwide have at least one security camera on premises.

I can understand recording at entrances, and perhaps in large areas where a lot of people congregate, but I wouldn't want cameras perpetually in my classrooms. It's very tough to get kids to participate, and knowing they're being recorded doesn't help. I spend a great deal of energy trying to coax words out of quiet, shy kids, and they're frightened enough already.

I once had a student observer who sat in my beginning class and clicked on a tape recorder. She was quite upset when I had her turn it off, arguing with me to the point where I asked her to leave. She went nuts. I told her she could either leave of her own volition or wait to be escorted out by security. She left, screaming at the top of her lungs. Doubtless she'll make a fine teacher one day.

I wouldn't mind having my classes recorded from time to time. But having a camera there all the time is a little too Big Brother for my tastes.

Do we need cameras in schools?
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