Friday, December 29, 2006

Grumpy old teachers

It's not that they're anti-computers. It's not that they are tiresome old stick in the muds, resistant to change, reluctant to embrace the future and let go of the past. It's just they know the foundations on which the future is built.

I am an occasional reader of 2 cents worth, a blog about the use of IT in education, written by self-styled 'education technology pioneer', David Warlick. Much of the discussion orbits around IT professionals and IT teachers who are embracing new technology (especially Web 2.0 etc) and trying to enthuse their colleagues about it. Often, they find that the response from other teachers ranges from the amused to the downright hostile. These 'stick in the muds' are often held up to criticism (not so much by David but by his readers) as being unwilling to learn new things. This kind of criticism always piques me and I have been thinking about it for a while now.

I am sympathetic, up to a point. I have done more than my fair share of advocacy for ILT. When you are an IT teacher, you also get an option on a second job of general muse and enthusiast for the progress of IT within an institution. And I can get angry, restless, judgemental as often as the next person. However, I am finding myself more and more on the side of the cynics and Luddites who bemoan the loss of library space in schools (culled to make way for more computers) and who sniff at their new electronic whiteboards. While we should be looking at the nature of the new curriculum and constantly asking ourselves what our students should really be learning, we must also remember that as 30-something and 40-something teachers, our own ability to deal with and adapt to this new digital era is built upon the rock solid foundation of really good reading, writing, mathematical and reasoning skills. We learned these from a paper-based curriculum. Thus we must fight for our students' right of access to literacy, numeracy and philosophical competency, and their right to be exposed to the painstaking, dogged and long-winded process of learning these skills to a high level.

I've been meaning to post about this for some time; it was M (of musingsonamac, who functions as my official supplier of right wing web content) who sparked me into writing by sending me this link to Boris Johnson on the subject of computer games.

However, lest you skim read this and come to the conclusion that I like Boris and don't like David, I am adding the always challenging and very readable Mr W to my blog roll as he continues to make me think, and is thus obviously a great teacher.

26 comments:

The Teacher said...

You make some valid points. What I would add (as an IT teacher myself) is that Web 2.0 is all well and good - if you can get other teachers to appreciate how useful its features are.

Let me put it another way. I (enthusiastically) use the various offerings that Web 2.0 boasts (such as social bookmarking and online storage), but I have not yet found a way of convincing my fellow teachers to follow my lead.

Whether this is down to my poor powers of pursuasion or a genuine lack of interest in the development of the web on their part, is something that I have not yet ascertained.

Happy new year!

Roger Distill said...

Worse than that, I have an ICT Adviser who is outright hostile to Web 2.0 because it's not to be found in the Strategy. She has directed me to stop teaching a KS3 ICT course which featured Web 2.0 quite a lot. The kids loved it, and it hit all of the attainment targets, but - hey, she's an Adviser!

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