Pointless lessons included in school plans

March 25th, 2009 § 5 comments

The Guardian

Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.

*puts head in hands* FFS.

The proposals would require:

• Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain “fluency” in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

Why do these formats of information need specific mentions?
What is there to learn to use these formats as sources of information? Blogging is no different to essaying or pamphleteering, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, podcasting is TV & radio and Twitter is no different to blogging.
If the intention is to teach ‘how to’ on any of these formats then it is going to be a waste of time. Podcasting for instance, there are so many different ways of recording a podcast that to teach a general ‘how to’, it would become useless. Get a kid to write a story about the school holidays in WordPress on teh internet instead of in a school book and hey presto, the kid is a blogger!

The curriculum, if it is to be teaching this type of stuff, should be teaching about the back end that runs all of it. the principles of databases or programming languages, the stuff that doesn’t, cannot change very easily or quickly. The front end of Wikipedia could be changed not quite overnight, but quick enough to make a lesson about it redundant, but how the internal gubbins, how it references itself and all the other stuff (can you tell I’m getting a little out of my depth here?) is not going to alter for long time. That is the type of thing that needs to be taught with regards to ‘new media’.

handwriting and how to use a pen and pencil should be a priority over keyboard skills. Handwriting needs to be more than fluent, as get the handwriting skills wrong to start with, and the kid is left with poor writing for life. Keyboard skills will improve everytime a keyboard is used.

As you can probably tell from this post, I could probably do with some lessons, but that would be lessons in English, not in blogging.

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§ 5 Responses to Pointless lessons included in school plans"

  • Agreed. Was thinking exactly the same myself. I’m perplexed as to why we’ve gone down this road of teaching front-end computing skills for years.

    It’s not going to be much use with generations of kids able to use Word and Excel (if we’re talking more traditional teaching at present) if when they hit the workforce and everyone gone over to OpenOffice.org ;-) (wishes slightly but you never know).

    Teaching the back-end stuff is far more important even from the hideously cynical view of economic competitiveness on the global market.

    What we don’t need are a generation of people only able to use simplistic front-end applications because there’s little real stable and long term income to be derived from it and keeps us very much in the consumer position rather than the producer.

    However teaching the kids how to do coding and build the stuff in the first place and or develop it is worth a lot more to the economy in the long term.

  • Sim-O says:

    I come from a mechanical background, HGV fitter, and the principle is the same.
    We weren’t taught how to change a clutch on a scania, but how a clutch works and the prnciples behind it so we can work out why it might not be working and to figure out how to change a clutch on an unfamiliar vehicle.

    The same thing needs to be applied right the way through a persons education and these plans with the blogging etc do not do that.

    Although another part of the proposal do say to reduce the reliance on calculators, in the same thing they will teach how to use a spellchecker.

    How to use a spellchecker FFS! Spellchecking is the lazy way. Who gets stuck on the spelling of a word and doesn’t use spellchecker but goes and gets a dictionary? No one. Teach spelling and leave it there.

  • Me and my good lady Eva-Jane were talking last night from a ‘king for a day’ perspective of what we’d do to change the education system in the UK and I won’t bore you with the details of our plan but it was in reaction to this kind of on the hoof, backwards policy making.

  • Sim-O says:

    ‘King for a day’, Oh, if only. I would be such a ruthless git.

  • D-Notice says:

    I’m trying to picture a lesson being condensed into 140 characters…

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