Friday, October 12, 2007

Primary Review

The Primary Review is published today. Not so much a critique of Primary school teaching,but rather a sounding on children's view of school and the scary society that exists outside of the railings Researchers ran 87 discussions with groups of children, parents, teachers and others; 750 people took part.

I have scanned through the document and found the two paragraphs relating to computers and what children think of them.

On page 13 we read:

Inevitably, children talked about new technologies. Their response ranged from the classic futurology of robot teachers and hologram libraries to a more considered awareness that new technologies gave them access to information unavailable to previous generations but that people should guard against excessive reliance on computers: ‘Use your brain, otherwise you will get lazy and obese’, warned one. Elsewhere children emphasised the advantage of the practical over the virtual. Children who worked out of doors (as in the Forest School which featured prominently in the Devon leg of the south-west sounding) were enthusiastic about the opportunity to ‘actually go out and do things’; others contrasted going on school trips with looking at a picture in a book or on the web, ‘because you’re seeing things, feeling things, real things.’
I love the 'Use your brain' quote and the tone of the report and the comments mentioned from children appears to be quite balanced between using ICT and experiencing the real world. Sue Palmer is quoted on the BBC site as saying children are being sold the idea that "happiness is 'stuff'" and the availability of screen-based entertainment meant children were now "battery-reared". I don't whole -heartily agree with the tabloidisation of Sue Palmer's comments, but I think there is a message of balance here for ICT advocates. ICT offers us much, in terms of a means of communicating and finding information. But we need also to be pedalling the message of ‘actually going out and doing things’,to communicate about or to do further research about.
A further paragraph mentions parents view on how schools will teach children to use computers.

Parents also saw the school as providing – or as needing to provide - an antidote to those societal trends that worried them most. Thus, the school would offer an alternative to wall-to-wall television. It would teach children to exploit computers and the internet for information rather than mere entertainment. It would encourage children to interact rather than watch, and to use words rather than images. Above all, it would foster the communal values and model the communal relationships which parents and other witnesses believed were in decline elsewhere.
Yes we should teach children to exploit computers for information, but surely we can also allow them to use a PC to create something entertaining, this links to the requirement of the art,music and literacy curriculum and also Creative development in Foundation stage. The implication in the phrase 'mere entertainment', implies that information mining is good and entertainment is bad. While I would not want to see my own children spending hours on Halo 3 or scanning Youtube, I would equally be horrified if their only experience of the Internet was googling information for homework projects. Once again, here is an issue of balance. When I think of my own computer use, I spend a good deal of time searching and posting, yet at the same time I spend a good deal of time watching Youtube, listing to Pandora, browsing Amazon and bidding on Ebay. Furthermore I use IT to create my own photoshop style images to share with my net friends, along with slide shows of holidays for my family.

1 comment:

Nic Hughes said...

"It would encourage children to interact rather than watch, and to use words rather than images."

This is a odd comment considering the value of images within stories and text. Also what about our visual learners, EAL and SEN children where images are an important aspect of their learning.

And as Anthony mentions computer can and should be used to create entertainment.