Why does it seem like everyone is sitting around waiting for Michael Gove to pontificate on the value of new technologies in schools? Do people really think he is suddenly going to wake up one morning with the thought “You know what, I’ve got it all wrong! All I have to do is give shed loads of cash to a quango and all schools will miraculously start teaching Computer Science.”
Well, I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but I would be prepared to wager a bet that he won’t be doing that any time soon.
This need for Goval approval is starting to worry me a little. And I think the reason the need appears to be there is a misunderstanding of what has gone before. IMHO, we didn’t get to where we are today with the use of new technologies in teaching and learning because of any SoS or quango. We got here because of the inspiration, dedication and perspiration of a large number of teachers who adopted new technologies early, learnt how to improve educational outcomes with them, and then worked even harder to spread the word to other teachers.
Along the way we have seen whole schools recognise the benefits to both learners and teachers that the effective embedded use of IT brings.
Yes, spending in schools on IT increased over the past 15 years and in that time there were ring-fenced amounts of funding for various technology related projects. But the ring-fencing did not create the increase in spending (nor in many schools/LEA’s was ring-fencing always completely secure), this was driven by the increased availability of beneficial technology, and by the hard graft of the aforementioned teachers. In fact, when you think of the initiatives that were directly driven by government its hard to get past thoughts of NOF training and the blight on classroom walls we call IWB’s (thank you very much, Charles Clarke).
I am not ignoring the view that what the SoS has to say does tend to set a tone that does influence the overall direction of a school (through the Head and governing body). But I can’t for the life of me see, given that every thing else he and his team have to say about education is predominantly dogmatic drivel (just don’t get me started on calculators), why we should be hanging on his every word about technology.
We need to do what Gove is telling us to do – trust the teachers. They are the ones who brought the internet to the classroom, video to the science lab, games design into English lessons and so on. There are already fantastic teachers working on coding with students of all ages. Nothing is stopping them from doing it. And those of us who sit outside schools supporting from the sidelines where we can, we need to up our game, focus and improve our arguments – not to Gove, but to the Heads who are holding the purse strings.