Helen Fraser boss of the GDST last week declared that the Internet was infantalising her ‘gals’. The ‘gals’ in question attend posh schools belonging to the Girls Day School Trust and it turns out what she meant was that getting factoids from Google to write an essay on (say) the impact on sexual mores of the Reformation is a poor substitute for reading a decent book or two on the subject.
Her GDST board members agreed wholeheartedly as you would expect on the grounds that this is most likely a valid observation (as presented in the context above) but I object equally wholeheartedly at accessing facts from the Internet being deprecated in such a general way.
My world of science, mathematics and technology is founded on facts rather than opinions and learned treatises, and the Internet is the most powerful and wonderfully accurate source of such facts. My students are certainly not infantalised by checking out the definitions of (say) entropy or the formula of a drug on Wikipedia.
What really exercises me is the yawning gulf between the educated and the pseudo-educated. One has only to listen to the ‘educated’ presenters of the BBC’s Today programme struggling with the most basic of science concepts to realise that as a nation we have a problem. Ms Fraser’s GDST board have a similar educational background to herself (thanks Internet for these facts) and needless to say they are more liberal-arts than rocket-scientists.
The GDST are a typical establishment elite group and the problem is that the educated elite are rarely science, maths or (god-forbid) technically educated to a high level. Worse, because they form a club of ‘people like us’ they have no idea that they are, in my terms, for that very same reason, poorly educated
It’s no wonder that massive IT projects run by such people always fail, equipment procurement for the armed-forces always ends in fiasco and mathematically complex financial transactions sail right over uncomprehending hubristic heads into fiscal disaster. These folk are an articulate menace.
So it is no wonder that Ms Fraser’s gals swell the ranks of English graduates and leave the engineering to the oiks. But I am getting carried away.
Maybe there is no need to get cross. They are an anachronism. We may be ruled by a badly educated elite but real society runs on technical expertise and therefore the requirement for instant knowledge is progressing at lightning pace.
To finish and to support my assertion I return to the tablet computer revolution which has featured in blog after blog. It is really happening, the consumption of material from the Internet whether they are facts, books, opinions or whatever is increasing ... exponentially.
Education is about to explode with these devices. You have to believe this when RM PLC the biggest supplier of computers to education, once un-fondly known as ‘mini-Microsoft’ announces to the education world that it is Apple through to the core. Whooa!
Why? Simple ... iPads.
Now that RM pushes and supports iPads into schools how long before every child has a tablet? Poor Ms Fraser, if she doesn’t want Wikipedia’s take on Satre she had better pressurise the publishers to get cracking with those e-books.