I’ll be seeing you

Biloxi classrooms are on candid camera: With a network of 500 webcams, administrators can monitor who’s pilfering supplies — and how teachers are teaching. USA Today reports:

”It helps honest people be more honest,” says district Superintendent Larry Drawdy, who, along with principals and security officers, can use a password to view classrooms from any computer. In an emergency, police also can tune in.

Webcams let parents nitpick teachers, complains Melinda Anderson of the National Education Association.

”Webcams would move us toward an environment of open-ended, all-day, all-the-time access to classrooms,” she says. ”You can argue that ‘just watching it’ does not interfere with teaching and learning, but if the watching results in a constant stream of complaints about teachers and their style, presentation of material, then it could become an interference.”

Drawdy says the cameras are there for safety — ”for supervision and not snoopervision.” But the images could be used by others to evaluate teachers, he concedes. ”If you’ve got unscrupulous administrators, that’s always a possibility. But if we’re going to act as professionals, then we should not be doing something in the classroom that we would be afraid to be on camera.”

Teaching isn’t a private activity. In theory, there should be no problem with outsiders observing in person or via webcam. (Biloxi doesn’t let parents tune in, though it would be easy enough to give parents a password to see their own child’s class.) It does seem creepy, though.

I grew up in a modern house: Everything was airy and open. I longed for dark corners, nooks, an attic, a magic wardrobe to Narnia. A person doesn’t always want to be seen.

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