Here we go. Let the fist waving commence!
The Grauniad has published this article preempting the release of a report by Jim Rose into the primary curriculum and already the fur is flying as the headlines say “History out, Twitter in”.
As ever, the reality won’t match the headlines (and the original article is a little more nuanced than the row suggests) but it’s a little depressing to note that educational debate in the UK isn’t moving on even as we try to remodel what is meant by “school”. We still row about how much information we can squeeze into the curriculum.
A few thoughts struck me as I listened to Radio 4′s PM programme get all fussy over it . (I’m a little giddy with a tummy bug so apologies if this rambles!)
Mainly, why if we see some technology has value in society does it need to be stuck in the curriculum? Twitter’s a good case in point. Yes, it can be a good educational tool and yes it’s a great way of communicating but why teach 9 year olds how to do it? It’s so easy to grasp that given the motivation most kids would be able to master it in 10 minutes.
But there’s another issue; kids aren’t into Twitter. It’s only Stephen Fry and sad cases like us bloggers. It they’re not motivated to learn a particular social application why suck the fun out of it by trying to teach it? If it’s useful enough then they’ll work it out themselves. Did we have to teach them Club Penguin?
Blogging, podcasting, Tweeting only exist because people have some use for them to communicate ideas. I’m not writing this post now because someone taught me to blog, I’m writing because I have thoughts in my head and I want them out of my head, maybe so that other people can go “hmm” or “idiot!”
The technology has no value by itself. What’s important are the ideas that get communicated through it. Start removing other things from the school day and you have to wonder where these ideas are actually going to come from.
These sorts of technologies should be liberated from the curriculum so kids get used to finding and choosing the best way of getting their ideas and learning across. That’s the real skill. If that is by podcasting, Bookr or Voicethread then great, with a little help and encouragement most motivated people can learn to do most things on their own.
It’s more about finding ways to engage learners first. Not relying on ICT tools to do that job for you.
I think the fuss over this article may just be a red herring. It’ll much more interesting to find out when the final report is published just what they mean by giving teachers the freedom to decide what children should concentrate on in class.
That could really make a difference!