Monthly Archives: March 2008

Chicken or egg

Each year pre-service teachers are thrust in the world of education. Most were taught by ‘old’ teachers. They will likely as not have a prac session with an old’ hand. ‘They are rarely prepared to face the Millennial world of students, they have barely enough skills to use a word processor for assignments or their iPods to drown out a droning lecture on Piagetian stages.       This is not a good thing.

Syllabus documents demand masses of content and ‘traditional’ assessment techniques. Hooray that pre-service teachers are able to cope with exactly these requirements.          Hmmm, sensing a link here?

 Back to those Millennial students… Old tired syllabus documents, old tired teaching methods, crammed courses, crammed teacher days, understaffed ICT support departments (if any at all) — all sounds too familiar.

Do the ‘eggs’ – our potentially education changing new-teachers bring the IT revolution that’s waaaay to long overdue? Or, are they only going to be able to make change when the syllabus documents allow such change? Will the writers of the syllabus documents make the changes or are they ‘chicken’?

I enjoy watching the ‘revolutionary fight’ that is conducted, mostly by the participants of the blogosphere and twitter-sphere and the like, I think it’s a necessary step to making any significant change, particularly against so large and well established an entity as education.

Educational change and classroom practice change isn’t determined by money or equipment (or lack of it) it only happens through the power of assumption.  Assume the students have the ability and capacity to embrace and support and gain from change, assume that the changes you make no matter how small are effective and cumulative, assume that the results however few and far between are being noticed and appreciated. Everything we need is in place now.  Assume it will all come good in the end.

It will.

The Google toilet roll

Imagine you’ve asked a librarian (they do still exist) in bold voice, I’d like to know about {insert topic of choice} – She ducks behind the counter pops back up holding a toilet roll  – or equivalent lengthy sheet of paper – absolutely full of entries.  They are the places on any page on any book anywhere that the topic of you choice appears. Useless right?  What we’d really expect is some librarian sense to cut in there and she’d actually give you a whole book or whole chapter not only on the topic of your choice but in pertinent form to you. Thinking primary school level or PhD here.

 But!  this toilet roll approach is exactly what Google gives you. Millions of entries with no sense of context and rarely any likely hood of educational value or connection to the assignment or project you’ve set or are taking.         So why do we do that?    Probably because Google forgot to put “directory” on the front page.  It’s hidden away in the depths of the labs section. That’s where all the cool things are in case you haven’t seen it.

Don’t let students search in the main page of Google unless they have really learned good searching techniques. The Directory search is much more forgiving, much more educationally valuable and likely to get them their homework done in half the time and with much better results.

 Remember this is good for you to set better assignments and projects too.