I spend a huge amount of my time reading about the top 5 apps for teachers, the best software for collaborative writing, the best web tool for this, that or the other, how to do something that I’ve never heard of but should have and now feel guilty about, so I’m going to Google it and try to drop it into a conversation next time I’m face to face with another teacher, so that I seem on top of the ever-burgeoning world of educational technology.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan. I might even describe myself as being someone close to the cutting edge of what is going on, but the more I read, the more concerned I become about the quality of what is going on in schools.
For every success story, there seem to be a couple of examples of really poor practice; schools that have launched a 1:1 initiative that has backfired, or teachers that use web-based-project-based learning as an excuse to sit down and let the kids get on with it.
I don’t blame these teachers. I don’t blame the IT guys who help rollout devices to students. So where does the blame lie?
I’m not sure I have an answer, but I suspect that the ‘real world’ outside of school and perhaps the internet, might not be entirely without guilt.
The problem with the real world is that it functions at a different pace and in a different way to a school. Schools don’t need to be progressive to be successful, they simply need to produce good results. If you look at league tables in this country there are not a lot of ‘progressive’ schools at the top. There are however, a lot of schools that are built on a reputation of excellence. Excellence is defined in these league tables as schools which get really good exam results and sometimes by the number of students that they get to university. There is no doubt that these schools do very often give their students the most incredible of extra-curricular activities too, but one must wonder to what extent these schools are leading by example when it comes to looking to the future.