Last year, some previously technologically illiterate Ethiopian children taught themselves to hack tablet computers provided by the One Laptop Per Child program. So it shouldn't have been surprising when, more recently, tech-savvy LA high school kids swiftly circumvented the controls on their school-issued iPads—controls that had prevented them from using the Internet at home or accessing sites like YouTube and Facebook. Yet the district flipped out. District police fretted that the two-click hack would spread like a "runaway train," and several schools are dropping the program.
All of which sounds like madness to Katherine Mangu-Ward at Slate. "Why would students gaining mastery over their digital devices be considered a 'runaway train'?" she asks. Isn't that the whole point of giving students advanced technology? "Schools are supposed to be places of free inquiry. … Limiting access to basic sites like YouTube signals that kids can't be trusted." The OLPC program celebrated its Ethiopian hackers, and LA should too, instead of hoping they'll "be content paging through glowing versions of their textbooks." Click for Mangu-Ward's full column.