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Student Given Detention For Using Firefox [UPDATED] 818

An anonymous reader writes "Several sites are reporting that a student has been given detention for using Firefox to do his classwork. No, really. The student was in class, working on an assignment that necessitated using a browser. The teacher instructed him to stop using Firefox and to do his classwork, to which the student responded that he was doing his classwork using a 'better' browser (it is unclear whether the computer was the student's own computer or not). The clueless teacher (who called the rogue program 'Firefox.exe') ordered him to detention." Update: 12/17 20:09 by SM One of the school officials was nice enough to contact us and let us know this is a hoax. If you are planning on calling the school please refrain from doing so, I'm sure they have had enough excitement for one day.
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Student Given Detention For Using Firefox [UPDATED]

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  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:08PM (#21728380) Homepage Journal
    The teacher was right. We have to stop this communism right here, right now!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
      The teacher was right.

      Well, the teacher was right... and wrong.

      First, the teacher was wrong for not knowing what FireFox (FoxFire) is. Any teacher with a computer in the classroom should have AT LEAST that level of knowledge.

      Second, the teacher was right in assigning detention. The teacher is in charge and has the right to tell the students what they can and can't run on school computers. If a student is running an application and the teacher tells the student to close it, the student needs to close it,
      • Re:OSS is evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kdemetter ( 965669 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:41PM (#21729110)
        If Firefox was installed on the school computers , then i see no reason not to use it .
        Unless the teachers is completely blind , he can see the web page the student is looking at , and can judge from that wether or not he is doing his work .

        This is like a teacher telling you to copy every file in a folder , and because he only knows how to do that by right click-copy-paste , you get detention for using Ctrl-A - Ctrl-C - Ctrl-V .

        It's a silly example , but it's just the same .

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:45PM (#21729206)
        Exactly, schools aren't there to teach creativity, they're supposed to teach conformity and acceptance. And I damn sure want to keep it that way because I'm creative, I like my job security, and I need schools to churn out people to fix my plumbing so I don't have to crawl around under my house. I would hope my fellow /.ers would feel the same.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:08PM (#21728382) Journal

    It appears the infraction was probably closer to being for disobeying the teacher than for using Firefox. While it exposes an interesting deficiency in the general knowledge of educators about browser technology, it isn't necessarily their specialty. (We don't know if this was some proxy of a teacher who was unaware of options for browsers.)

    Without any more information, this is merely a potential story... I wouldn't bother sending e-mails to the school. You may want to consider first:

    • did this student have a history of infractions?
    • was the student explaining his choice as a better browser as a canard?
    • was the assignment specifically geared toward, or requiring of IE?
    • was the firefox browser installed as an option and available, or,
    • did the student download and install without authorization?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No surprise here, US schools have become so much about teaching to the test that kids are being taught not to think, but just blindly, mindlessly obey. No wonder there haven't been any sound leaders coming from the US this generation... because no one is learning how to think for themselves, think critically, and do what is right even when it conflicts with doing what you're told. Even Hollywood is in on it - try watching Dead Poet's Society sometime...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      This is an apology for authoritarianism - assuming innocence on the part of authority, and granting benefits of doubt to their actions while also itemising possible hypothitical infractions by the accused.

      That is how fascism is apologised.
      • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:26PM (#21728732) Journal
        his is an apology for authoritarianism - assuming innocence on the part of authority, and granting benefits of doubt to their actions while also itemising possible hypothitical infractions by the accused.

        Uh, no. I expect Authority to be... well, in charge. Imagine that. Should the students be allowed to install and run anything they want on school computers? Can you do that at YOUR job?

        That is how fascism is apologised.

        Blow it out your ass. Just because someone is in charge, in this case a teacher in charge of the classroom, doesn't mean that the school is fascist.
      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:35PM (#21728972) Journal
        And you sir, are an apologetic for anarchy - assuming the guilt on the part of the authority. The facts of the case are not in dispute, the student refused to do what the teacher said, which was a reasonable request. The students don't run the classroom, the teachers do (or are supposed to).
        • by Kevin Stevens ( 227724 ) <kevstev @ g> on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:07PM (#21729772)
          I agree and just want to chime in.

          Until I hear the whole story, including this kid's background, I would not pass judgment on the teacher or the school. This sounds eerily like the stories some kids used to tell along the lines of "I got detention just for sneezing!" which on the surface sounds like some idiot power-crazed teacher wronging a well meaning student. Then you get the back story, he was acting up in class, and being asked to control himself several times, then lets out an over-exaggerated (even if it was a naturally reflexive) sneeze intended to get more attention, which is the last straw to the teacher who then writes him up. But his version of the story is "all I did was sneeze, and I got detention!" which one or two of his buddies will corroborate, and that is what spreads around.

          Somehow, it was always the disruptive students with histories of disruption that somehow ended up the victim of such events. I have a feeling this kid circumvented IT policies probably not for the first time, installed Firefox, showed off his 1337 skills to the class, who then caused a distraction by saying "ooh cool" followed up by "can you show me how to do that?!", the teacher then found out, and then said "close that and use IE" to which the student did not comply, probably at least twice, while basking in his badassness and attention from his classmates, then the fed-up teacher finally gave him detention.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:19PM (#21728602) Homepage Journal
      You really need to stop trying to be reasonable.
      The Student was told twice to close Firefox and use IE.
      He should have just fired up IE.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by liquidpele ( 663430 )
        Couple things:
        Most school computers are locked down, I doubt the student installed firefox, they probably just downloaded a stand-alone build. So downloading and running it will not do any harm thanks to things like deepfreeze. So as long as he was doing his work, who cares? I could understand if he was listening to online music or watching youtube or something.

        But then again, some schools computers are not locked down. That or they just use a proxy loading into IE to block bad sites. IN this case,
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Alastor187 ( 593341 )
      I think your points are valid, but since teachers aren't experts on web browsing technology should they just close their mind to anything they don't understand? The bigger question I am asking is, why cannot teachers learn from students everyone once a while? So maybe for the next assignment students could be given the option of using IE or Firefox depending on their comfort level.
    • this is slashdot, we don't use logic here. for that you need to go to.... um... not the internet!
    • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:25PM (#21728722) Journal
      I work at a school district in IT, and I can assure you that some (too many) teachers can barely teach, let alone manage to run a classroom with computers.

      I would love to require all teachers who want to use computers have to attend a class on computers in the classroom by someone like me who can explain the technology and what it can do (and not do) in the classroom.

      However, I can equally assure you that the Teacher's Union is so high on itself that it wouldn't allow having a non-teacher teaching anything, let alone other teachers. There is this underlying current of elitism in many teachers.

      Suffice it to say, I doubt that 85% of the teachers using computers in the classroom know anything more than "Click the Start Menu" type instruction, and if it isn't Microsoft ________ it isn't used. Period. Firefox isn't Microsoft, so it isn't used, and teachers don't know about it.

      I don't know if I should blame the teachers or not. However, this teacher was running the classroom properly. The student had no right to change the instruction of the teacher (even if the student was correct). I know that managing a classroom of people is hard enough without having some rogue student thinking they know better. Even if Firefox is a better browser (it is), that doesn't give the student the right to vary from the instruction (use IE).

      One last thing, the last thing I want on computers I manage is students downloading and installing whatever programs they think they want onto computers. If they want to use a program they need to request it through the proper channels. If I caught a student installing software on a computer without permission, I'd recommend they be expelled, regardless of what they were installing. Its not their computer.
      • by MarcoG42 ( 1087205 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:39PM (#21729054) Homepage

        If I caught a student installing software on a computer without permission, I'd recommend they be expelled, regardless of what they were installing.
        If I caught you changing lanes without using your turn signal I'd recommend having your driving privileges revoked for life, regardless of the fact that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
      • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:42PM (#21729132)
        I work at a school district in IT, and I can assure you that some (too many) teachers can barely teach, let alone manage to run a classroom with computers.

        I work at a school district as a math teacher. I also have several years of experience in IT industry, and have a master's degree in CS. I can assure you that *most* of our IT people know little to nothing about anything that doesn't involve Microsoft or Novell. Which means I just deal with IT problems myself, because I can usually *not* count on getting any level of help beyond the simple scripted responses one gets when they e-mail technical support.

        Why do I bring this up? Because this sword you swing cuts both ways: I'm *definitely* not one of the teachers you describe, and *you* definitely don't sound like one of the IT people I describe. I think it's fair to say that not many teachers *or* school district IT employees are what you and I would describe as "computer literate beyond the most basic level."

        BTW, your comment about installing software leads me to believe that this student may have also violated an AUP that specifically prohibits the installation of programs other than those endoresed by the school district. Regardless of how one reads "installation," it's a safe bet that no one would argue that copying an .exe to a Windows drive, even if it does not access the registry, constitutes "installation."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Selfbain ( 624722 )
        Let me get this straight... If a student installs something you don't want him to, you'll try and ruin his life in exchange... Ever heard of detention?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dwandy ( 907337 )

        managing a classroom of people is hard enough without having some rogue student thinking

        ok, I know I'm dropping vital words to re-context your quote, but this is what's wrong with education today.

        In a world where every fact is just a click on the InterTube(tm) away, we don't need kids who have memorized facts without meaning. We need to teach critical thinking and allow the kids to explore the world and find their own path. And sometimes that means they'll find something that the teacher isn't aware of. Th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by paeanblack ( 191171 )
        One last thing, the last thing I want on computers I manage is students downloading and installing whatever programs they think they want onto computers. If they want to use a program they need to request it through the proper channels. If I caught a student installing software on a computer without permission, I'd recommend they be expelled, regardless of what they were installing. Its not their computer.

        Would you recommend expulsion for a student that brought in some insect to mount on a slide to look at
    • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:31PM (#21728858) Journal
      The teacher was under the impression that the student was not doing his work. So the request to 'close the program and resume work' was, well, nonsense. I'm not going to bother entertaining the idea of this being a 'reasonable' request, because the reasoning behind it was faulty to begin with. With this in mind, and with regards to your comment, should there be no issue taken up with teachers enforcing 'unreasonable' requests?

      The whole 'punish first, investigate later' mentality of some teachers is the problem here. I have met many of the sort, and they are NOT among the better educators I know.

      Your bullet list being what it is, I wonder whether you read the detention letter in the first place.
    • Giving detention for using unauthorized software for school work actually makes some sense, and not knowing FireFox is a lot less outrageous in the real world it would appear to the users of a nerd forum.

      However it seemed to me that the kid was trying to rationally justify his decision, and the reason (as you indicate) that the detention was given as a punishment for questioning authority. That is a much more serious problem, especially if you believe one of the goals of primary school is to teach the pupi
  • Ah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:08PM (#21728384) Homepage Journal
    I think we can all safely jump to conclusions here and make some truly insane comments - GO!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Praedon ( 707326 )
      Clearly this teacher is the sister of the cousin of the butcher of the brother of the nephew of the aunt of the brother of the friend of the half brother of the sister-in-law of the cousin of the friend of the friend of Bill Gates....
  • Well, naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timster ( 32400 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:09PM (#21728404)
    Our schools are supposed to teach discipline, which most people think means following the rules. As Stephen Colbert says, if the rules were logical then they wouldn't be learning respect for the rules, they'd be learning logic.
  • by ComaVN ( 325750 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:10PM (#21728416)
    Haha, reminds me of how I got yelled at by an irate "computer-science" teacher ages ago, for breaking a monitor (ie. turning it off with the big red power button on the front)
    • Didn't I tell you to NOT press the big red button!!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) *
      FYI, high school computer science teacher requirements are completely off-base, at least in my state (Pennsylvania). I looked into becoming a high school comp sci teacher, and the requirement was a degree in business. I kid you not. Not "a degree in business or a degree in computer science," but you MUST have a degree in business, and there are no other requirements (other of course than the standard educational stuff of getting certificates and whatnot, which are common to all subjects).

      To convert my Co
  • by Soleen ( 925936 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:10PM (#21728424)
    I wonder would he get an A from music teacher for using Oepra?
  • so what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:11PM (#21728434)
    He was told to use IE, didn't, teacher noticed, told him to use firefox, he mouthed off back to the teacher. Got punished. Nothing to see here.

    Headline is a bit sensationalist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tannhaus ( 152710 )
      Exactly. The issue here wasn't whether Firefox would work or not. The issue here was he was told not to use it and refused to comply.

      There really is no difference here between this and a student saying "No, I've decided I'm not going to get on the school bus to go to the field trip. I met this awesome guy in the bathroom of the mall and I'm going with him in his car instead".

      • by caluml ( 551744 )

        Exactly. The issue here wasn't whether Firefox would work or not. The issue here was he was told not to use it and refused to comply.
        And you should always do what you're told, even if it sounds like, or is, not the best option? Baaaa, I will obey, baaaa.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhxBlue ( 562201 )

      Nothing to see here.

      Except maybe why public schools are having such a hard time of it in the first place. A reasonable teacher might have said, "Interesting -- tell me more about it after class, but for now, stick with the other browser." This teacher, in contrast, played a power game and probably did more to undermine his authority in the classroom than reinforce it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bloater ( 12932 )
      According to the teacher's statement the student was not told to use IE, the student was told to do his work - the student explained that he /was/ doing his work and how it was possible with firefox. The teacher did *not* claim that he/she then explained that the coursework must be done using IE - this is not documented in the explanation of the reason for the detention (and since the student would need a clear instruction of what to do before being able to do it, one would think that this should have been
  • I approve of the new story icon :)
  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:12PM (#21728448) Homepage Journal
    It is a problem when the students know more than the teachers.
    It isn't clear if this is a "computer class", in which case this is really bad because teachers should know more than the students in the area they are teaching in.

    There is much more leeway for an English teacher to not know how to do integrations/derivations, for example. I don't know if this should extend to stuff the teachers use to teach the class, but it probably should. How can you use something effectively to teach if you don't know how it works?
  • Report it right (Score:2, Informative)

    by Borealid ( 838626 )
    It's actually funnier the way the teacher DID report it... 'foxfire.exe', not 'firefox.exe' as the /. blurb says.
  • OHMAGAWD THIS IS TERRORISM PURE AND SIMPLE! As somebody who is in no way associated with Microsoft I must say that the use of browsers not written by Microsoft is a clear violation of our - their - intellectual property. Clearly this child should be executed for his crimes against our... their... corporation.
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:13PM (#21728484) Homepage Journal
    While Firefox is indeed a great browser, it is a largely irrelevant part of this sage -- kid runs unauthorized application, is told not to, disobeys instructions and talks back.


    Sidenote - Do the editors or the submitter start off the tags these days? This story came fresh with 4 tags...I thought it waited until "democracy" spoke. Wisdom of the masses et al.
  • Student's Side. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:13PM (#21728488) Homepage
    Having worked in education for many years (and having kids), I guarantee that the student's side omits mention of defiance or cockiness. This of course doesn't excuse the idiot teacher, but I imagine there is more to it than presented by the submittor. It is astounding how innocent and respectful they believe they were after the fact. I imagine the kid wanted to use a better browser, the teacher got miffed at the install, and they both proceeded to behave poorly. Most likely the browser was just a catalyst in the childish behavior of both. And I say this strictly as having been the idiot teacher.
    • by calc ( 1463 )
      There isn't much for the kid to need to make up for his side of the story as everything was documented in the official detention notice...
  • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:14PM (#21728500) Homepage
    I'm sure the student sat the teacher down and explained the pros and cons of Firefox vs IE in a clear and respectful manner, and didn't say "Shut up, hehe, I'm using Firefox. It's better than your crappy IE!"

    If you are a jerk to a teacher, you get detention. I knew this when I was in school. When has it failed to be common knowledge?

    I'd also like to know if the computer was the student's own or a school one. If it's a school computer, then all bets are off. If it's the student's, I would have said that I don't have IE.
  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#21728512) Homepage Journal
    ... that the teacher even noticed the difference? Really, the displays of firefox and ie are fairly similar, and if you aren't looking at the very top or very bottom of the window, a layperson might not notice the difference at all.

    I do wonder what version of windows was being used that the teacher noticed it called "firefox.exe" (and then subsequently changed it to "foxfire.exe" in the write-up).
    • by ThreeGigs ( 239452 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:49PM (#21729320)
      Chances are the teacher was using some sort of process monitor to see what was running on the kids' computers.

      Chances are also good that the teacher never saw the screen of the kid in question.

      And, if the kid installed Firefox, he could have also uninstalled it, deleting all history. Any kid savvy enough to install Firefox is also probably savvy enough to have a good reason to avoid admin lockdowns in IE that prevent one from deleting your browsing history.

      Worse? If the program running really *was* Foxfire.exe, not Firefox. I see no one has entertained the possibility that the kid was running malware. Also simple enough to rename utorrent.exe to foxfire.exe.

      However, all of the above aside, aren't kids *supposed* to be supervised while on the net?

      Essentially by running Firefox, the kid could've gotten around blocked sites, bypassed proxies, and been browsing pr0n with no accountability.

      And as a sysadmin having dealt with too many users having installed things on work computers they shouldn't have (did the kid install the Google desktop with FF?), I'm completely on the teacher's side.
  • Disobedience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#21728524)
    The detention was for arguing with the teacher, I'm sure. We all know the school would be better off running Firefox as a matter of course; it would at the least be more secure. But the teacher should be able to, for instance, say "Stop using Word. I want this done in notepad."

    It would be stupid, but the teacher can set the parameters of how the kids perform the work.

    If the kid wants to promote Firefox, good for him. I'm sure he's sharper than the teacher. But the proper way is to write something up that lists the cost/security benefits and give it to somebody official, not just install and run the software.

    (I'm assuming this was the school's machine, not his own computer.)
  • I wonder if the teacher actually knew what the program was, but wasn't sure if the school's monitoring software would work with it.

    If not, I'm sure the teacher could get in trouble for not making the kid use IE.

    Not saying its right, just saying its a possibility.
  • What's New (Score:2, Funny)

    by fumanchu32 ( 671324 )
    Given the context in which this story is presented, the teacher is quite ignorant. Granted, there is probably a lot more going on than what is in the story. Even so, I was given detention for talking in Calculus one day. The problem... I was at home sick. Needless to say it was easy to get out of.
  • What I hear: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:17PM (#21728552) Homepage
    This is what I hear when I read this:

    Teacher doesn't know all things about all things, makes request for perfectly reasonable action from child under his/her supervision. Child refuses on the grounds that child knows better than the teacher what the teacher was asking the child to do. Teacher gives child detention for disobedience.

    Look, it turns out that teachers are not omniscient. Whether or not the child was correct that he was adhering to the spirit of the request, he was not adhering to the letter of the request, and refusing to do so is still worthwhile grounds for punishment.

    Notably lacking from the report is what the kid's attitude was. If the kid copped an attitude, then nothing else would really matter. Also lacking is whether the student installed unauthorized software on the school's hardware. It could be the teacher was cutting the kid a break for a more serious offense by only giving him detention for failure to comply with the request.

    There's many unknowns here, and giving the benefit of the doubt, it still breaks down to a student refusing to comply with a reasonable request, and that should be grounds for punishment.
  • .exe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yotto ( 590067 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:17PM (#21728560) Homepage
    Considering the teacher reported it as ".exe" that leads me to believe there was some sort of process monitoring going on, and the teacher saw that this one computer, presumably in a lab (else how could they monitor a personal laptop) which leads me to believe that the student DID install Firefox on school property and therefore broke the rules and should be punished.

    Any chance that I would be outraged by this, which was quite low to begin with, has faded.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, what is the take-away lesson?

    1. You probably know more than the authorities do.
    2. The authorities don't like it when you challenge them.
    3. The authorities have the authority to do things to you that you don't like.
    4. The world doesn't care that it isn't fair.

    Sounds like an excellent, low-cost (1 detention) life lesson that will serve this kid well.
  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:32PM (#21728888)
    Another day, another non-story.

    This is no different than a company telling an employee what software to use on the company's time and company's equipment, and then the employee gets punished for disobeying. If the kid wanted to use something else, he should have done it on his own time and his own computer. "Freedom" doesn't have a damned thing to do with it. There is no story, the teacher is not even the least bit ignorant, stupid, or in the wrong, and I have absolutely zero sympathy for the kid.

    And the Slashdot editor(s) responsible for the posting of this sensationalized non-story should also get detention.
  • From boing boing's blog entry []:

    I just spoke to the principal of the high-school -- nice enough fellow. According to him:
    * The kid altered the document after scanning it
    * The kid was punished for mouthing off to the teacher, not for using Firefox
    * The kid had been asked to work in Word on a resume (the assignment) and kept looking at the Web instead (and this was a recurring problem)
    * The kid has admitted this and will be posting a followup/correction/retraction today

    It appears that the student wasn't JUST using "a better browser". He was browsing OTHER STUFF on the web. Too bad.
  • so let's see: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @03:50PM (#21729342) Homepage Journal
    The teacher instructed him to cease using firefox and to do his classwork, and he refused the teacher's instruction. Sounds like grounds for discipline to me.

    And at least on my computer, my Firefox link refers to firefox.exe.

    My advice to student: learn how to negotiate with authority better. If you hadn't gone in-your-face, you likely wouldn't be in this situation.
  • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:03PM (#21729662) Homepage
    The following notice has been posted on the school's website. Looks like some attitude was involved which would make more sense. Too bad the principal isn't prepared to provide more details about the use of software.

    Detention Letter Press Release
    December 17, 2007

    Recently, a file was uploaded to the Internet purporting to be a copy of a letter from Big Spring High School to a student regarding a two hour detention. The uploaded letter was an altered version of a detention letter sent to a student. Unfortunately, privacy concerns prevent the School District from giving a full explanation of the nature and source of the letter's alteration at this time. The Big Spring School District does have confirmation that the discipline letter was altered.

    The reports, blogs and other sources on the Internet indicating that a Big Spring student was assigned detention for using the Firefox internet browser instead of Internet Explorer are untrue and were based on the fake letter. Detention is assigned in our schools after appropriate warnings are given, if students continue to engage in non-academic activities or fail to follow a teacher's directive during class time discipline can and will be assigned.

    Sincerely yours,

    John C. Scudder

    High School Principal
  • by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:05PM (#21729718) Homepage Journal
    After having read that detention report, all I have to say is that ******** is a hero for trying to use an OSS browser. ******** deserves a pat on the back, not detention. If more people emulated ********'s example, then they, like ********, would see how much better it is. And to ********'s parents, I say, "You should be proud of ********! ******** should wear this detention like a badge of honor!"

    Congratulations, ********!

    Also, the teacher, "P. Bealmear" is obviously a certain "S. Ballmer" doing a sabbatical in a high school. I see you, Steve!
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @04:43PM (#21730464) Homepage
    and you want people to refrain from calling the school... you could... you know... remove the story...
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Monday December 17, 2007 @05:07PM (#21730838) Homepage
    I witnessed a kid in my class being given a detention, for "trying to break the school computers".
    He was using keyboard shortcuts, instead of going through the slow laborious way the teacher had shown the class.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @05:15PM (#21730952)
    When I was in high school (graduated in '91), I knew vastly more about computers than the teachers did. That wasn't a major feat considering the time, and I am now aware of how many things I thought I knew but knew wrong at the time. But in any case, because of my "vastly superior" knowledge, I was a total cocky-ass jerk. Because of my (perceived, at least) superior technical knowledge, I was a discipline problem and a disruption in class. I would "correct" what the teacher said and refuse (or at least resist) to do what the teacher told me to do, etc.

    I should have gotten my ass beat for this.

    Of course, at the time, I was really hard-headed. I'm not sure I would have learned my lesson if I had been punished. I was the sort of person who would get so caught up in being technically correct that I was blind to the concepts of being socially or procedurally or ethically incorrect.

    I'm 34 now and in grad school. I took a computational linguistics class where we had to code an Earley parser, which is a dynamic programming approach to human language parsing. I was bothered by the fact that the grammar we were using was, in my opinion, half-assed. I think lexical grammars are a better (if still not very good) model of how humans process language syntactically. But I did not complain. I had a good time chewing the fat with the professor about it during office hours, because it's interesting, but there was no need for me to "complain" about it in any context. After all these years, I'm able to pull my head out of my ass and recognize that we often "simplify" things or make arbitrary choices as a foil for learning something more general. We were not there to learn about lexical grammars. We're there to learn to write parsers, and an Earley parser can be adapted to lexical grammars should I feel inclined to do so. Big picture here!

    Let's hope this kid doesn't take as long as I did to learn to see the bigger picture, recognize that life involves judicious compromises, learn to function socially, and not be so self-centered that he makes things harder on other people just for the sake of being "right". (And by "right", I mean that he may have logical support for his hypothesis, but it's technical and the topic can still be debated. I'm NOT talking about moral "right" here, which is a whole other subject matter.)

  • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @05:26PM (#21731138) Journal

    I find it funny that while in theory schools exist to help students learn about the nature and the society they are growing in, detention [] punishes students by making them stay in the school more, therefore implying that school is probably a bad place to spend one's time.

    Here we have a great example of a brainless bureaucracy punishing one of its subjects for being smarter than the crowd. This student may have done something wrong (installed software on someone else's PC without permission) BUT I hope we all can see here that this student was smart enough to understand the deficiencies of mainstream browser(s), find a better browser, and install it. One would assume that society and schools should encourage children to take initiative, fix mistakes when they see them, and take decisions that make their life and the life of everyone better. This student discovered that the big bureaucracy they were subjected in was using a stone age browser, and he took a bold decision to fix the problem immediately without bureaucratic inefficiencies (the only problem being that he should have asked for some kind of permission first because the computer was probably not their property, but we can overlook this because we can't expect from young kids to observe complex society rules, so we should have used this as an opportunity to teach them, but detention really doesn't help a pupil to understand the concept of property at all, it only makes them feel alienated from society and think that they live in a dangerous place).

    This is exactly how self-organised societies can function (by the way my academic research is related to self-organised non-hierarchical business companies and swarm intelligence algorithms), self-organisation is a good thing, and yet big bureaucracies like this school kill every spark of self-organisation at first opportunity. One has to wonder whether discipline and hierarchical control has become the new religion and it causes us to live in greatly inefficient bureaucratic McDonaldised iron cages (ironically McDonaldisation implies efficiency but in reality the associated bureaucracies create inefficiencies in many ways). Really, how much time have you lost trying to persuade your boss (if you work in a traditionally hierarchical company, which I thankfully managed to avoid as an independent) that your next project should be done in a serious language such as Python or Lisp instead of .NET? Or that Firefox and Thunderbird should be allowed on your work PC?

    Also, why should schools be designed with teachers being superior to students? All humans are students, after all, and some students may know more in one subject than the teachers. For example, in this case probably the teacher knew more in some academic subject (let's say history) and the kid knew more in technology. I see this as a good opportunity to learn: The teacher could invite the student to speak publicly to the class about why this mysterious program "firefox.exe" is a better browser, and they could ask the student to write an academic essay analysing their position on browser choice and argue for or against allowing students to install whatever they want on school PCs. The teacher could offer guidance to the student, explaining that while some students may know better and install good software (firefox), other students may put the school in risk by installing malicious software (viruses), and for this reason some sort of efficient supervision needs to exist. The student then would be required to search online for examples of arguments supporting each view and come up with their own position on the matter, etc... All this could be a great academic exercise, and it would also offer the teacher the opportunity to *learn* from the student, specifically to learn why "firefox.exe" is a better browser. This is what I mean that everyone is a student... Even PhD holders and well-known researchers are nothing more than students, they d

  • by cowplex ( 877690 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @05:51PM (#21731554)

    Yes, incredible as it may seem, this has happened to me.

    Let me repeat that:
    this HAS happened to me.

    Schools (K-12 at least) seem to be under the impression that students should be locked down hard from the Internet - a policy I may not agree with, but see good reason for. However, this attitude has gotten me into trouble a number of times.

    For instance, one day we had some assignment to look something or another up on the Internet. Since I had my laptop there, I decided that I would use it instead (it has a Dvorak keyboard, which I like better than QWERTY). I pulled out my laptop, hooked it up to an unused RJ45 jack with a cat5e cable that I had brought from home, and did the assignment. At the end of the hour, as we were all packing up, our "sysadmin" (I use the term loosely, as I could do a better job than him while in a coma) walked in and saw my laptop. He walked over, asked my name, and then asked me to try to access a blocked webpage (myspace, if I remember correctly). I typed in the URL, and lo and behold the site came up. The sysadmin looked puzzled, thanked me, and walked away, polite as can be. The next day I found my computer account suspended and a fresh new detention slip waiting for me for circumventing school security, even though I had never done so until he asked me to visit the blocked website.

    The first detention was something that I could see a faint glimmer of rationality in, but the second one I got took the cake. This one occurred a few days later, while my computer account was still suspended. I was in the lab again, using the teacher's account (we needed the internet again, and my laptop had suddenly and mysteriously been banned from connecting to the internet at school) when the sysadmin walked into the room and saw me on the computer. He talked to me teacher for a while, and I could see her trying to explain why I needed her account and his insistence that I was breaking every school rule known. Eventually, he walked over to me and asked whose account I was on, etc. and told me to get off immediately. I complied, but before he walked away I asked why my laptop could no longer connect to the network. I asked as polite as you please, no anger in my voice, no threatening actions, etc. He simply looked at me with an odd expression on his face for a few seconds and then walked off. Next day I get a slip with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR detentions for "using another person's account" and for "insubordination."

    All this hyperbole brings me back to my initial point: at a different point in time, I got a detention for using a version of portable firefox from my thumbdrive.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (dlrowcidamon)> on Monday December 17, 2007 @06:54PM (#21732380) Homepage
    If you are planning on calling the school please refrain from doing so, I'm sure they have had enough excitement for one day.

    If you were planning on calling the school, then WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? What possible purpose does that serve? There is no legitimate train of thought that should lead to the decision "I SHOULD CALL THEM."
  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:11PM (#21733074)
    It would be completely appropriate punishment.

    This isnt about politics of OSS, but rather simple control of hardware on their network and making sure it is consistently running.

    Guess what can happen in the real world if you do that type of stuff? anywhere from nothing to finding a new job.
  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @09:00PM (#21733460) Journal
    ... we'll have a big internet furor over whether a child was unfairly sent to their room. We'll start out assuming that the child was correct when they detail it as "no fair!"

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