(he says, on a computer upon which the Internet is blocked. The irony!)
My school is, largely, awesome; the work is difficult and stressful, and the discipline has been occasionally extreme, but I’m going to UCL in a few months, so I’m generally very happy with the last seven years of my academic life; on the whole, it’s been worth it.
However, one thing that’s not been worth it is the lack of open Internet available on the school’s network, a problem that probably only exists at my school, with its specialised Sixth Form study area and several computer rooms open for all students to use at lunch, so don’t both pointing out the inherent #firstworldmiddleclassproblems nature of this post.
But it is very annoying not being able to search for what I want; WordPress is blocked for a start, so I have to type these up on Word and copy them onto WordPress in the evenings (which basically makes uploading a post a two-step process, when it could otherwise be a one-step one), and research material for both blog posts and actual school work is severely limited; for some reason, the Rasputin Wikipedia page is blocked, as is the Nazi Party page, which made background research for my History coursework rather difficult.
And it’s the illogicality of these blockages that annoy me; on one hand, the school is telling us how they’re treating us more like adults, with our own University-style library and homeless post-graduate coffee shop to hang out in the doorway of for five hours a day like those dogs you see on RSPCA adverts, but they’re also not letting us use the Internet for what we want to use it for.
Obviously, the blocking improves productivity, as we can’t get distracted on YouTube or that maths game (LINK TO THE GAME), which is about as insanely popular as you’d expect for a school in which five-sixths of the student body are studying maths at A-level, but surely these are our grades, and they should reflect our choices about how to spend our time?
Furthermore, the school’s policy is inconsistent, in that there is (supposedly) WiFi available for students to use in these Sixth Form facilities, so the 90-odd people that religiously bring in their own laptops every day (perhaps just to flaunt the fact that they have a Macbook so the rest of us school computer-using plebs can frak right off) can just go online and look up whatever the Hell they want; the blocks are only in place for school computers, not the school WiFi.
Therefore, this isn’t what I call a ‘practical policy’, one that is done out of a genuine desire to improve safety of productivity, but a ‘discipline policy’, which is implemented purely for the purposes of keeping the troops in check. I accept that this latter variant is often necessary when trying to convince a thousand or so hormonal teenagers that these exams are really that important, when half of them are pissing their brains away at their older brother’s Eighteenth, or filling their heads with Superbad quotes as opposed to chemical formulae, but are these measures strictly necessary for a year group in which about 40 people are going to Oxbridge? We know exactly how important our exams are to us, and so shouldn’t we be able to judge how much time we are, should, and will be spending looking at pictures of cats on tumblr?
And that’s all we would do with our time; is there a concern we’ll look up porn or something? No-one’s that depraved on this planet, and so a relaxation of Internet blocking would only result in an increase in the number of people who watch sports and play games online (which some people do already, because BBC iPlayer isn’t blocked, and we can bring games in on USBs).
But I’m aware of the hopeless idealism of this post; the school is in the business of maximising results, out of a public desire to help its students, and a private desire to beat the nearby grammar school in the league tables; furthermore, my criticisms of the system basically consist of me wanting it to be slightly easier to write blog posts, because even ‘helpful’ websites that are blocked, like Wikipedia pages, can be easily accessed at home that evening, or on the smartphones we all have these days.
So I’ll refer you to the point I made back in the first paragraph, that school has been ‘worth it’ for me; I’d like freer Internet, but it’s probably not worth complaining to any members of staff about it, for the inevitable failure of my argument and the fact that I’ve only got 27 school days left, so I’d only have about a week of looking at Rasputin’s Wikipedia page anyway.
But I guess it’s nice to have something to bitch about for no reason.\-