As a primary school teacher, it can seem like chalk and cheese when comparing my experience of primary school as a pupil, and as a teacher. Much has changed, blackboards were slain by whiteboards, whiteboards by SMART boards and SMART boards by high definition I boards. The lone computer at the back gave way to ICT suites before being replaced by laptop trolleys, said laptops biting the dust to make way for I Pads. Excel lessons became coding lessons and before we knew it children were using their finger prints to order and pay for their lunch. Mind = blown. Whatever happened to the TV on a trolley?
Poignantly, the question must be – does the educational value justify the financial cost? Educational technology is booming, an industry forecast to be worth over 100 billion in three years. With educational cuts how can schools afford to keep up with the latest gadgets? More pressingly, how do teachers teach programming without the relevant training?
It is simply undeniable that the world around us changes with every passing day. That means industry changes. It is more than likely that the jobs we are preparing these children for do not exist yet. And with millennials coming of age, it’s only a matter of time before their influence over state education dictates the necessity that schools move with the times. It is therefore imperative that children are taught relevant skills with appropriate technology that will transfer in to real world value and worth. There does however appear to be an interim period surfacing, in which it is often the case that schools do not have the funds to keep up with the technological climate, this coupled with the fact that many teachers do not feel confident in teaching skills such as coding. So inevitably, old school isn’t quite so dead just yet. Of course there is also the fact that chunks of the curriculum lend themselves very much to old school methods, grammar and mathematics for example. I have seen firsthand schools with state of the art I Pads which are used for nothing more than Google searches, an expensive research tool.
In the words of Bob Dylan “The times they are a changin’”, undeniably so, but without the relevant funding and training it will be a slow change. Is technology changing the face of education? Absolutely. The face of industry is changing and therefore education must follow suit in order to adequately prepare our young people for the world of tomorrow. Old school is not quite done yet though, it has its value and merits. The question must always be asked, how does this enhance education? If the answer is tenuous then what is the point? If it aint broke then don’t fix it. A book will always beat an e-reader in my opinion, but you can’t teach coding on a P.C. with Windows 95. The TV on a trolley has long gone, I doubt we’ll ever see a black board in use again but we must not forsake methods of teaching which have proven the tests of time.