Computers are bad for education

According to recent headlines in the tabloid press (so it is likely to be right if for the wrong reasons) three out of four of the new jobs created in the UK have gone to foreign nationals Apparently the domestic demand for graphic designers,...

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According to recent headlines in the tabloid press (so it is likely to be right if for the wrong reasons) three out of four of the new jobs created in the UK have gone to foreign nationals Apparently the domestic demand for graphic designers, video editors, MP3-rippers and psychologists is weaker than it is for engineers, care-home workers and labourers. Unfortunately we have a surfeit of the former and a dearth of the latter. Having only recently returned to teaching after a ten year absence I find the world much changed. To my horror two changes that in the 1990s I would not have imagined possible, have occurred. The first was that the future of the nation, in as much as it must be determined by the skills and education of the next generation, was handed over wholesale to the whim of its children. By this I mean by and large it became normal that they decided what they would study from 14 years of age. The rationale was that each should pick something that they enjoyed and were ‘good at’. Missing from this philosophy was the notion that said ‘education’ would find favour with future potential employers. Secondly, never in my wildest dreams had I expected computers, so rich in potential (that were to provide me with a living for the next decade), would become such useless expensive white-elephants in schools whose prime role seems to be to appeal to children’s’ transient desire for the novel and thereby distract all and sundry from doing any real work or acquiring any real skills. This is a time of change however, a cold, cold reality is settling in. I field fewer and fewer questions at 16+ along the lines that ‘little Jimmy does not know whether to do Maths or Graphics at A level ... he gets As in Graphic but finds Maths quite hard’ btw ... if you think little Jimmy should pick Graphics you are part of the problem) Regarding computers there is now a rule of thumb in schools... ... the more a subject makes use of computers the less likely it will be of any use. Subjects that use computers the most: Media Studies, Music, Art, ICT, Graphic Design, Computing, Business Studies Subjects that seldom use computer the least: English, Maths, Science, Languages ‘Nuff said you may think but what is the response of the school leaders to this disparity? It’s obvious surely? The solution is to badger the latter to incorporate more computers into their schemes of work...indeed use of ICT is a major metric used to evaluate a teacher’s performance. Schools still spend vast amount on ICT, secondary schools spend close to a quarter of a million pounds each annually and for what? If the tabloids are right about the foreign workers and our pedagogues are right about the importance of computers then one can only conclude that places like Romania and Poland must be awash with the darned things.

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