Education Quandary: Why should learning about computers and technology be put at the heart of the pr

Author: By Hilary Wilce

Hilary’s advice

This parent spends all her time trying to get her children off the computer
and into the fresh air, and is appalled to read that ICT (information and
communication skills) is at the heart of the proposed new primary school
curriculum, due to come in by 2011.

I sympathise, but can also see why children need to be taught how to manage
digital media. Everyone in the world will need to know how to manipulate
text, video, music and pictures, and how to evaluate information ? and use
it effectively.

My fear is that precious school time will be wasted on teaching pupils things
they already know. At the moment, only about a quarter of primary schools
teach ICT well. Many teachers haven’t a clue how to use ICT in the
classroom, and the equipment available to schools is still inadequate. Poor
ICT teaching leaves pupils sitting mindlessly in front of screens producing
pointless, ill-written materials.

Good ICT teaching, on the other hand, is exciting and enhances learning.
Writing blogs, creating video diaries and podcasts, and producing
spreadsheets and presentations, can all improve numeracy and literacy, and,
when used with skill and imagination, light children up about learning.
Technology can also draw parents into school life, through shared blogs and
videos of school events.

As always in schools, it’s all about the teachers. Great ones turn technology
into a great tool for learning. Poor ones just turn their pupils off.

Readers’ advice

Schools need to teach children about the personal computer, the internet, and “office
productivity” software as they are the basic tools that everyone from
the stay-at-home parent to the chief executive officer needs to be familiar
with. The school IT curriculum can also address potential technology-related
problems such as data privacy and online stranger awareness, internet
security scams, and how to avoid viruses. Teaching children how to use
technology appropriately is just like teaching children road safety when we
buy them a bicycle.

Simon Perry, Berkshire

This is another shameful move on the part of our meddling government. There is
no evidence that putting more computers into schools has any effect on
children’s learning, unlike the evidence for books and reading. To elevate
the teaching of computing over science, which will no longer be a core
subject, is unbelievable. Computers are a tool. To turn them into a subject
is just plain stupid.

Jane Abrahams, Hertfordshire

You have to teach pupils about technology or the gap between the bright
children, who will teach themselves at home, and the others will grow wider,
leading to a two-nation society. Also, it is important to teach pupils that
they cannot believe everything they find on the internet. But no one can use
technology if they can’t read and write, so that must still come first.

Arshad Patel, Middlesex

Next Week’s Quandary

I feel out of step with my school and don’t know what to do. Our head believes
in a rewards-based culture where children are motivated by praise not
punishment. Children are applauded for every little thing they do. I try to
run my classroom differently, but it’s a battle I am losing.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to
h.wilce@ btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose
replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th
Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com where they
can be searched by topic.

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