Can Camera’s Improve the Classroom?
The classroom is a security black hole, to be talked about only in stories. Even in schools were every other area is lined with security cameras, sparse information is known about what goes on in classrooms. In the UK things are a bit different though, In Britain schools now have cameras in classroom in multiple amounts.” Now they’ve “gone to school”…literally. Not just at front gates, in corridors, and cafeterias, but right in the classroom, sometimes a few at a time!”(Palkot par. 2). Cameras are bridging the gap between fact and knowledge, making researching education a completely new process. But not all administrators agree that classroom surveillance will be a step in the right direction, “Putting cameras on children trains them to believe that being watched every minute of the day is O.K., that Big Brother is ok,” said Steve Lilienthal, a director at the conservative Free Congress Foundation (qtd. In Dillon B9). Some teachers are even concerned that the cameras will be used to “victimize” them (Palkot, par. 8). Either way, cameras can finally provide the community with visual records of the classroom, and make educational research a more in-depth process.
If the cameras watching the classroom are used the wrong way they can cause great harm to the community. A Child who grew up under constant surveillance would not think about privacy the same way as a child that had class in complete privacy .In August of 2003, “schools in Biloxi, Mississippi, became the first in the country to install webcams in every hallway and classroom,”(Scott 20). “Some students feel they are being watched all the time,” says Maryann Graczyk, President of the Mississippi American Federation of Teachers (qtd. in 20). Only administrators have access to the camera footage, and “if parents, students, and teachers want to see this they must first go to court,” (20). If a student is accused of wrongdoing and is disciplined, the proof should be shown and not just described. If the misbehavior happens in a camera blind spot the administrator might just assume the individual did it. Parents will never believe their child is innocent if a supposed tape exists so why would they want to go through the excruciating court process. Maybe paranoia can make classroom supervision seem so scary, but there are certain truths to the suspicion.
There are many positive aspects to having classroom supervision. To start, the videos could be used to improve the educational system, instead of relying on test scores and statistic for making adjustments, the classroom itself could be the statistic. Imagine researchers watching videos of class in session, and listening to the actual lesson plan. A state wide test can show them that a certain classroom isn’t very good at fractions, but after reviewing the tapes a research group can discover the students where never taught how to divide fractions properly. Evidence of the active classroom can help improve flaws within the educational system.
The cameras, of course, would also be used for identifying mischievous behavior. Lynch Hill Primary in Slough, Berkshire, used their classroom surveillance camera to catch a girl who stole another girl’s shoes. “No one was owning up so we rewound the tape. If the teachers say ‘I will rewind the tape’ it makes them own up.” says School bursar Lyn Hazell (qdt. in Lewis et al. 1). Having cameras in the classroom would be a great deterrent for would be iPod thieves, and can be even be used to stop bullying. "Kids are scared," said Doris Coy, associate professor of counseling at the University of North Texas. "They think, 'If I tell on somebody, then they are going to be twice as hard on me.' Bullies use that power and fear to reinforce their actions."(qtd. in Vargas). If parent are given the ability to view their child’s classroom they might have a chance of observing their child being bullied or doing it. There is no substitute for the amount of information cameras can obtain.
Most schools in Las Vegas have cameras but they are only outside the classroom. There are instances many times a day where the future of a student rests upon a single statement. The administrators usually look in to the credibility but when it comes down to it those decisions are made upon guesses. A lack of security in the classroom doesn’t accomplish anything. I propose surveillance cameras and microphones are placed in every classroom so there is always a credible source of information in the classroom. The cameras could be connected to a secure connection and be viewable on a password protected website. Parents and teachers could be issued usernames and use the service whenever they feel the need to. The footage would be useful as evidence in case of a theft, and can even be used for students too ill to go to class.
In todays complex world being on camera is a daily form of life, and the only reason to be scared of them is if someone is doing something they aren’t supposed to do. Cameras are just there to make sure individuals are doing what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to having cameras in the classroom. Cameras sacrifice privacy for safety, but when it comes down to it, safety is more important. The added benefit of having a constant source of uncorrupted information in our youth’s place of learning would only help improve our society. If you think about it when you grow up you are video taped at work so why not be used to it. I say Las Vegas should have cameras in every classroom, with the video online for parents to view anytime. Concerned parents will finally be able to be in peace knowing they are always informed about their child’s participation and behavior (Sugden 21).
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