We should be rewarding students for experimenting with tech, not punishing them.

Just over an hour ago, a student at my school was given in-school suspension (ISS) for finding an opportunity in the code on his school-issued laptop to enable administrator privileges. Now I know this student personally. He’s a good friend, and I know his intentions behind what he was doing, and why he chooses to pursue technology. It’s his passion, and he was merely trying to allow himself more privileges to experiment with some cool technology. On one hand, it’s fun to mess around on a computer, finding some settings to play with or a cool place to test some code. Although it can have some unintended consequences, it does have its advantages.

On the other hand, the school’s position is understandable. You don’t want 3,000 kids running around with admin controls on a school issued laptop wreaking havoc on the systems and the network, but one guy who I have never seen do anything remotely close to wreak havoc should never be punished with something as severe as ISS. At least they should let him off with a warning.

I believe this is a great example of the unrealistic restrictions imposed upon students in schools today, not allowing room for creativity or room to explore, especially through technology. As the fastest growing industry, companies in tech and STEM are looking for people who can think outside the box, love to explore, and have a passion for what they do. Restrictions to only use a school laptop for schoolwork, disabling the potential to explore more about a system or its parts is unrealistic and stifling to the creativity the industry is searching for today.

Although this small post won’t reverse the school’s decision or make this student feel any better about the situation, I hope it brings to light the type of students we need more of, and why the school district should better respond to situations such as this.

“Hack is not a four letter word.”*

*A popular phrase in the tech world to disassociate “hack” with curse words to a more positive connotation valuing learning and forward thinking.

We should be rewarding students for experimenting with tech, not punishing them.

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