In class, I have to power down

David Puttnam, in today’s Guardian Education asks why it is, despite children having been quick to grasp the joys of new technology, schools are lagging so far behind.

At a recent digital education conference in San Francisco, one of the more memorable remarks quoted came from a child: “Whenever I go into class, I have to power down.” That roughly translates as: “What I do with digital technology outside school – at home, in my own free time – is on a completely different level to what I’m able to do at school. Outside school, I’m using much more advanced skills, doing many more interesting things, operating in a far more sophisticated way. School takes little notice of this and seems not to care.”

He refers to a recent Demos report, Their Space (81 pages, pdf). This report, supported by the National College for School Leadership, includes a whole range of ideas that could help inform eduBuzz developments, for example this from Chapter 4 , “Start with People not PCs, How schools can shift investment”:

This chapter has laid out a set of changes that when taken together add up to a shift in values: a shift in terms of the kind of investment that is needed to reach the potential for change in the system, and a shift in terms of the kinds of skills, experiences and relationships that schools value. Shifting schools’ value systems in this way will create more meaningful learning experiences for young people, and also more active and engaged learners. It will also enable schools to reconnect the currently disparate parts of young peoples’ lives – in school and out of school – and enable them to transfer knowledge and skills across a whole range of experiences. But finally it is important because by building on young peoples’ interests and enthusiasms, and doing it in ways that are going with the grain of their lives, schools will succeed in effectively providing all young people with a set of tools that they can use far beyond their formal learning experience.

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David Gilmour

Learning Technologist East Lothian Council

One thought on “In class, I have to power down”

  1. The ideas in TheirSpace do inform eduBuzz but, as the quote from the chapter suggests, a lot of the shift has to come from within schools themselves. That’s why TeachMeet training is so important, since it gets the whole school working together in changing their mindset (and learning some practical skills along the way).

    Puttnam’s article is good but says nothing new that teachers haven’t been saying for the past few years (or longer if you read Illich 😉 Even the headline and opening para isn’t his or from one conference in particular – it’s a line straight out of Marc Prensky’s book Don’t Bother Me Mom (which he’s not attributed).

    It’s great to have it in the mainstream press, if you like, but also frustrating that he’s “calling us to action” when so many of us are plugging away and affecting positive change in a manner with which teachers and schools can cope, don’t you think?

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