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Canada Education Wireless Networking

Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the frying-their-developing-brains dept.
New submitter KJE writes "The CBC is reporting that an Ontario teachers' union is calling for an end to new Wi-Fi setups in the province's 1,400-plus Catholic schools. The Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (OECTA) says computers in all new schools should be hardwired instead of setting up wireless networks. The OECTA, in its paper (PDF), said the 'safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.'"
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Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban

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  • by DeadSeaTrolls (591736) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#39025005)
    Take the microwaves out of the teacher's lounges.
  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#39025013) Homepage Journal

    Do I really have to say more?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#39025017)

    Probably the same reason the word 'nuclear' (as in nucleus') has been dropped from 'MRI'.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:44PM (#39025021)

    - make them leave their cell phones in their cars

  • by jaskelling (1927116) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:49PM (#39025085)
    So a Catholic teacher's association is complaining that something isn't fully scientifically researched, documented, and proven? A CATHOLIC association? Galileo Galilei is laughing in his grave right now.
  • Two stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:51PM (#39025117)

    There's two stories here.

    The 1st one is the exoteric "I'm scared of technology" FUD that frankly works pretty well.

    The 2nd one is the esoteric and totally unpopular "I'm sick of kids playing angry birds in class" and "I'm sick of my boss (principal) and/or family and friends IMing me stupid distracting stuff while I'm trying to teach a class" and "I'm sick of the boss using this to track my every digital action and create utterly meaningless dilbertian machine generated metrics to evaluate me on instead of doing real human observation evals" and "I'm sick of square peg / round hole the silver bullet to all educational problems is just add more internet"

    I send my kids to a recently wifi'd school and also have some teacher relatives and option 2 is the reason why they use option 1 as a weapon against wifi.

    See, option 1 works and thats all they care about in a "ends justify the means" scenario. If blaming witchcraft or the spread of communism on wifi worked better, they'd be trying that angle instead.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:53PM (#39025157) Journal

    Honestly, I think it's time to re-evaluate the usefullness and legitimacy of the "Precautionary Principle". Over and over it's being invoke to deprive people of a known, verifiable *benefit*, in the name of unknown, unverified "dangers" - essentially "We know WiFi/whatever provides a benefit; but *someone* has made the unfounded, not supported by the evidence claim that there might be some risk of health problems, so let's deny people the known benefits in order to avoid unknown risks.

    As far as WiFi - it's not like it's brand new and untested. It's been around for over 10 years now. Wouldn't we have seen (or be starting to see) any problems by now?

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:57PM (#39025221) Homepage

    It's all about the Catholic perspective:

    1. Radio waves that pass harmlessly through your body = dangerous
    2. Omniscient deity that can read your mind and plant thoughts in your brain = safe (good, even!)

    Makes sense.

  • by Godai (104143) * on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:04PM (#39025363)

    Okay, I know its not fun to hear, but what you think you know about Galileo & the church is more complicated and less fun. From Wikipedia:

    Earlier, Pope Urban VIII had personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism. He made another request, that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo's book. Only the latter of those requests was fulfilled by Galileo. Whether unknowingly or deliberately, Simplicio, the defender of the Aristotelian Geocentric view in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was often caught in his own errors and sometimes came across as a fool. Indeed, although Galileo states in the preface of his book that the character is named after a famous Aristotelian philosopher (Simplicius in Latin, Simplicio in Italian), the name "Simplicio" in Italian also has the connotation of "simpleton".[55] This portrayal of Simplicio made Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems appear as an advocacy book: an attack on Aristotelian geocentrism and defence of the Copernican theory. Unfortunately for his relationship with the Pope, Galileo put the words of Urban VIII into the mouth of Simplicio. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice and felt blindsided by the reaction to his book.[56] However, the Pope did not take the suspected public ridicule lightly, nor the Copernican advocacy. Galileo had alienated one of his biggest and most powerful supporters, the Pope, and was called to Rome to defend his writings.

    So while, yes, the Church did lock him up and heliocentrism was at the center of it, it was more about Galileo being stupid in how he wrote his book & the hurt feelings of a powerful man (the Pope). Frankly, no one looked good in that mess. The church was actually one of the biggest sponsors of science back then, something that rarely gets recognized because its so much more fun to set it up as religion vs. science, as if they've been in a death struggle since the beginning of time.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:07PM (#39025419) Homepage

    This article embodies the general tone in schools and universities over here. Profs aren't allowed to think too hard, or else they will ruin the illusion of conformity the WASPs so desperately crave.

    Looking back at my education, I can think of maybe... 5 profs that actually knew their stuff. Okay, 5 and a half, because I forcefully enlightened one of them. The other hundred-ish ? Mindless imbeciles, going through the motions, reading from cue cards, collecting their extortionate paycheques. Like any organisation, the larger it grows, the lower the common denominator. Of course, the cue card readers hated the real profs like a redneck hates an educated black man. "How dare they rock the boat ?"

    If they want to ban Wi-Fi in the classrooms, they can knock themselves out. It will only make it ever so slightly more obvious that our educators are a cabal of imbecilic swine.

  • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot@l ... t ['per' in gap]> on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:08PM (#39025431) Homepage

    If you thought fear-mongering and ignorance were exclusive to the American deep south and are now on the verge of changing your mind, then no, you're not going mad, you're going sane.

    I doubt it'll be any more pleasant than the alternative though.

  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:13PM (#39025527)

    It doesn't matter if chalk dust causes lung problems, it appears to be enough if the 'safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched'. The health effects of WiFi signals has more likely been much more heavily researched than graphite dust from pencils, dry-erase marker dust or the liquid that evaporates from them. For that matter any additional un-tested off-brand pens and markers brought in from students.

    I like the comments above from others. If the union is successful then also absolutely prohibit any teacher from bringing a mobile phone on to campus. Remove microwave ovens from the schools as well. If a 600mw WiFi radio on a ceiling is thought to be dangerous, then a powered up phone in a closed metal vehicle should be viewed as reckless. In keeping with standard school policies, a teacher with a powered on mobile phone anywhere on campus, including their cars, be subject to a zero-tolerance policy and result in immediate termination.

  • by ThePeices (635180) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:14PM (#39025553)

    hmm, you have not thought this through I see...

    Sure, the children are learning the same things, letters and numbers. But what pencils and paper do not teach is the use and familiarly of modern technology.

    We want children to grow up around the things that they will be using extensively for the rest of their lives. Insulating them from technology will not help them, it will cause more harm than good.

    Waste of time and money? Absolutely not.

  • Re:Two stories (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:17PM (#39025595)

    What you've basically just said is that a teachers have too many kids in their class rooms to make eye contact with each one of them every 2-3 minutes, which is all it takes to tell if a student isn't paying attention and once you know that it's pretty easy to figure out why. If that's the case, doubling the number of teachers isn't just going to solve the 'wifi problem', it's going to improve education as well.

    My point is, WiFi isn't the problem. The problem is kids not knowing how to behave respectfully and parents and teachers not knowing how to make kids behave respectfully. The solution to that problem isn't to get rid of WiFi so that a certain small percentage of students will have to find a different way to not pay attention. The solution is to teach the damn kids to listen to the teacher. That takes, first and foremost, constructive parental involvement; but since that doesn't seem to be an option these days giving the teachers the tools they need to run finishing school as well as a high school, including smaller class sizes, seams like a viable alternative.

  • by ThePeices (635180) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:24PM (#39025729)

    Why not?

    Because it is pandering to a false belief (that wifi harms people), and its one that *has* been thoroughly researched, unlike what was stated in the article and summary.

    It is a dangerous thing to fold and let this pass, because irrational opponents to radio waves will point to this case to further their fear-based opposition.
    You cant just let them win because its "too hard" fighting irrational beliefs, you have to educate people about the facts so they are not afraid of things they don't understand properly. You have to show everyone that these people are wrong, why they are wrong, and why it is a bad thing to allow such wrongness to win.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:43PM (#39026015)

    Firstly, I totally agree with your sentiment, and it is a shame the folks that modded you today forgot to turn on their sarcasm filter.

    Having said that, look at it from the other side. When I hear utterly asinine stories like this, I agree that it makes me angry and frustrated with the state of the world - but at the same time, I look at the bright side. When I have kids, I will bring them up with good education, critical thinking skills and a solid understanding of science and reasoning - then I happily think about how little competition they will have in the real world when their peers are sitting under desks scared of the "eViL WiFI!".

    While it makes me a little sad to see in this day and age these sort of shenanigans still going on, I can't help but think that my offspring will be like wolves amoung the sheep.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:44PM (#39026029) Journal

    What the... are you some crazed lunatic trying to attack religion? You religion hating bigot!! Why can't you let the religious be?

    *smacks self across face*

    Oh. Sorry, I almost fell into the trap that's being played out here in the US when someone mentions removing "God" from the dollar/pledge.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:46PM (#39026059)

    If my kid came home with a note like that, I think I would ask him/her what he most wanted in the whole world (assuming new computer, gaming station, pony etc) and go out the same afternoon and buy one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:50PM (#39026111)

    Then it is not DECT.

  • by scrib (1277042) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:54PM (#39026169)

    Actually, this depends quite a bit on other variables, notably the height of the pyramid. Standing at ground level puts your perspective above ground level. Imagine standing at the middle of one edge of a square pyramid that is 10 meters on a side. Imagine the pyramid is only 1 meter tall. Certainly, you can see all of the corners. Even when the apex reached eye level, because your eyes are offset from the center, you would still be able to see three sides, and thus all four corners.

    This wouldn't work for the pyramids in Egypt, unless ground level involved a pretty big hill...

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:09PM (#39026313)

    I do, however, find that some, if not all, of the "best" teachers are those that are willing to admit they are wrong, learn from their mistakes, and admit that there will always be more that they do not know.

    That's got nothing to do with teachers though. That is a trait that is probably shared by most of the best in any field.

  • by micheas (231635) on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:17PM (#39026961) Homepage Journal

    What's next? Banning windows and outdoor recess? Both of those activities subject students to far greater EMF Radiation from the fusion reaction commonly referred to as "the sun" Further more "Cover up" campaigns in Australia aimed at lowering skin cancer rates showed an increase in vitamin D related conditions that far outweighed any health benefits from the campaign.

    This is all over the fact that the cancer rates around high voltage power lines in Colorado in the late 60s and early 70s were far above what would be expected. The moral of that was that maybe you should check if the power company is using agent orange for weed control (they were) before you look like an ass, and create a bunch of junk science about the dangers of EMF radiation.

    There have been hundreds of studies about EMF and none of the studies without major flaws have shown any correlation between EMF radiation and cancer, or any other disease.

    In the 70s and 80s your comments made sense, now it just makes you look stupid and causes people to be dismissive of your overall agenda, which would be good, if you were not chasing something that people instinctively know is wrong.

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