There is a very famous youtube video called ‘shift happens’, where the future world is laid out in front of us and has shaped some of the direction of education thinking. To summarise, we need technology literate children to cope with what is coming. This with additional pupil premium funding has seen, what can only be called an arms race, in schools to equip the pupils with ever more expensive shiny kit.
Fifteen years ago saw a similar technology race to equip every classroom with an interactive white board. A piece of kit that sucked budgets dry and is very rarely used beyond a screen to show PowerPoints. This time the general move tends to be towards 10 inch screens with a picture of a bitten apple on the back.
Now I am not particularly a dinosaur when comes to technology. I use a smart phone and tablet for work and in lots of situations they are hugely useful. My tablet is full of documents to read, typed and handwritten notes, to do lists and web pages I want to read later. My calendar and emails sync seamlessly across platforms and devices. I have made fantastic contacts through social media.
My point here is that I studied O and old style A levels. There was no thought to the future world that we might inhabit. Key to sorting children’s ability was knowledge acquisition, regurgitated on to an exam paper at the end of the course. With the current examination system heading back to these tests, I honestly ask “what is the point of huge amount of technology in a classroom”. Yes I can see the research and revision that can be done, but typing, and watching are second class learning techniques. In a paper published in April last year in the journal Psychological Science, two US researchers, Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer claim that note-taking with a pen, rather than a laptop, gives students a better grasp of the subject. If to prove your knowledge you will have to write for a minimum of two hours, a keyboard skills are just not going to cut it.
So, as a nation we have a dilemma we either we have to admit that our current examination regime is not producing the students that we need because they need the technology or agree that the 19th Century skills of recall, handwriting, spelling and grammar are the way forward. I believe that the current technology that children use with ease are a fantastic tool, but ultimately it won’t help them be successful in tests that were invented over 60 years ago. And, by the way, I am still waiting for the hoover board promised in the 1980s.