Mobiles in Class II: the Ofsted view

I posted an article last week describing how we make use of student's smartphones in class. It attracted modest interest but no comment. I was disappointed if I’m honest as the use of personal technology in education is (in my view) an...

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I posted an article last week describing how we make use of student's smartphones in class. It attracted modest interest but no comment. I was disappointed if I’m honest as the use of personal technology in education is (in my view) an important topic and a controversial one.

I made it clear in the article that teachers usually respond with horror at the thought of personal technology being used by pupils, which is in strong contrast with their love affair with institutional technology. Schools spent literally billions on technology in schools, buying all sorts of rubbish and kidding themselves about its value.

My pet hate as some will know are the expensive Interactive Whiteboards and so it’s with joy that I use the free on-line Scribblar white board in both class and for private work ... but I digress.

The issue about personal technology is of course one of control.

Lack of control of a class is a disaster in a similar way that lack of control of a horse is a problem. Bad and scary things happen when the creature(s) is not listening and is careening out of control. The analogy is worth pursuing for a little longer. Control in the equestrian world can be divided into two camps. One which says ‘do as I say’ and will not hesitate to enforce compliance through the respect that fear engenders. The other will still make it clear what they want from the animal but expect compliance to come from cooperation ... which in turns derives its force from a social compact.

It was therefore illustrative to read the in the Daily Mail today:

BAN mobiles from schools: New Ofsted chief gets tough over classroom discipline and schools could be penalised for failing to tackle disruption

followed by:

  • Sir Michael Wilshaw says handsets can be used to access porn in lessons
  • Teachers could be marked down by inspectors if they don't enforce ban

The sheer fear of technology simply radiates out at you. The language of the new Chief is traditional in every respect: traditional in its ‘tough guy tough this tough that’ rhetoric, traditional in its use of the golem, in this case ‘children access porn’ and lightly sprinkled with words like ‘ban’ and ‘enforce’. How deeply depressing. No wonder the NAHT ( National Association of Head Teachers) accuse this Luddite of trying to create a culture of fear.

Sir Michael would I’m sure beat his horse and I’m sure he would never make a good rider.

Technology is developing in people’s hands, mostly young people we have to find ways of leveraging its potential and the likes of Sir Hang-’em-and Flogg-’em deny this at their control-freak peril. If the kids are not cooperating then find out why...we like horses are naturally cooperative and much more effective than when we a coerced.

I have a solution, and it’s coming true in every part of society not just education.
Let’s just ignore Ofsteds, ignore silly old men and the posh boys and get on with building a high tech future.

We’ll make mistakes but I do know that the schools of the past (or present if you are a posh boy) are not the future.

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