Posts Tagged ‘manifesto’

D&T Pedawhaty?

Posted 14 Nov 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant

Its good to talk. We were having a nice chat in my department, and ended up with the view that we’re all going to hell in a hand-cart, teachers and students alike.

Okay, maybe its not that bad, but in these swingeing (who made up that word?) times it’s fairly easy to convince oneself that everything is rubbish.

Take the state of our D&T curriculum, f’rinstance. Hi-tech machinery that does everything for you, students not knowing which end of the ruler is the sharp end (I have literally seen a 14-year old lad hammering a screw into his work), greater pressures on teachers to produce which reduces the possibility of risk-taking in terms of classroom creativity, which in turn leads to more rigid projects, which leads to everyone doing the same, which results in a drop in student motivation, which results in teachers spoon-feeding, which results in everyone having a results-centred approach to D&T; in that all students want is to get the ‘thing’ at the end, which all leads up to the probability of any given student reaching the end of a project without having learning a flippin’ thing, merely having followed a series of stringent instructions as to how to construct some pre-fabricated kit with flashing lights that is guaranteed to capture their attention for the duration of the project but that has no real significance to the greater part of their lives, especially as they could buy something equally gaudy but more interesting from the poundshop or anywhere else you care to mention.

Doesn’t it make it all seem like a god-awful waste of time?

Yet D&T offers so much more than this – it is design, it is technology. What D&T is not is CDT – that look is so early-nineties.

I would really like to think that we have moved on from the ‘make this because I said so’ pedagogy, but to what? The problem is that you need that do-it-until-you’ve-learnt-it approach, if you’re to pick up the skills that you need later in the curriculum.

A spread of projects that reads ‘year 7 – laser cutter, year 8 – laser cutter, year 9 – laser cutter’ can result in only one thing come years 10 & 11, surely?

Yet what student honestly wants to know about tenon saws and housing joints when they can pop to Ikea for a full bedroom set for pennies?

In my experience each D&T department is better off when it wrestles with these questions – more alive, more searching. Each department will, at this point in history, have some sort of schizophrenia over which camp it sits in, even each teacher, even within each lesson.

Things aren’t as bad in my department as we were talking about, but the elephant is definitely in the room. My guess is that it’s not going away anytime soon.

And another (!) thing – touchscreens – everything has them now, but it’s not the sort of thing that you can use in the classroom. It makes us look so, well, basic.

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The Final Word on Games

Posted 31 Oct 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant, thought

Okay, so I totally backed out of the promise I made to myself of writing a little piece about how computer games might be useful or even good for you.

What happened was, I got too involved in playing damn games. I try not to beat myself up about this, but the fact is that I have now spent an amount of time playing games that, in retrospect, I would rather have spent doing something else.

I have nothing to show for my game playing other than tiredness and a nagging feeling that I will never get that time back.

I enjoy games while I’m playing them. I think. But there are other things that I enjoy more, surely?

Whilst writing the last post, Notes on Addiction, I got to the point of talking about making games, so that’s what I did – i downloaded a couple of games creators – http://www.delicious.com/cheersphilip/creator - and they were good.

However, and this is really the crux of the matter, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them.

I thought about doing something ‘educational’ or based around the school I work in, but that is just lazy thinking and does not stand up to scrutiny by the simple question ‘why?’ So I shelved that as well.

The final word is that, yes, games are interesting and, yes, they can be an amusing diversion for a while, but when you’ve got as many things to do as I have – and now that I look at them, I think ‘these are interesting, cool things that I’ve wanted to do for ages’ – then I’m probably best off doing them first.

Word.

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You want to ban THIS?

Posted 26 May 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant

You want to teach Design & Technology in your schools, but you don’t want your students to use these:

Do you have any idea what these things can DO?

This is not an advert for mobile phone companies – it is a call to arms against the anti-tech tyranny!

Do you, school leader or administrator, have any idea of the capability of these devices? Can you not see that all students, from all backgrounds, already have and regularly use one of these devices? Most of them have better ones than i do!! They can do more things, faster and easier, than most of the programmes supplied with my free teacher laptop! And the students ALREADY OWN THEM!!

Yet you want me to teach Design & Technology like it mattered, whilst pretending that nobody has one of these, that we’re all in some era where D&T is softwood mortice & tenon joints and ‘chalk and talk’ lessons. Ridiculous.

Rise up, D&T teachers of the world, (well, the UK then), and unite against evil tyranny of technology oppression!

Petition your headteacher and Local Authority to allow the use of mobile phones, in order to raise student engagement and cut unnecessary spending on duplicate resources. Throw off the yoke of alleged cyber-bullying and educate your students on the use of digital technology – send them the message (via text? <ouch>) that their culture is not subversive, but that it is the future!

You can do it if we all do it.

Cheers,

Philip

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Time for a TeachMeet?

Posted 19 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category diary, Ideas, Rant, thought

Okay, I want to meet teachers and students and anyone who can help me understand why education isn;t working (IMHO) and what we can do about it!

So I went to Becta-X and that was fun and techy and information overload but I didn;t feel that it really hit the mark for, just identified that there was a mark that was being missed.

It may have been there that I picked up the habit of writing really long sentences with no punctuation but I guess hey thats just speculation.

So anyway, there seem to be these things called Teachmeets, they are a type of ‘unconference‘ that you organise yourself and then people come along and you all talk and there’s no agenda and thats it.

This sounds perfect I just want to meet other people who think differently to everyone else and can kind of see there’s a problem and want to DO something and not just wait around for someone esle to do it and then complain that that wasnt what should have been done.

Fast Tube

Does anyone out there want to join me? I have no idea what I’m doing, othere than the speaking to other people thing which i believe  i already mentioned – i’m going to need a date a venue and a sponsor to start and somewhere along the way there’ l be people invited nad then it’ll happen and who knows what.

We also need a title – i was thinking of something like ‘SATs: Secret Agent Teachers’ as one that would bring together people who see that there is a deficiency in our current system but who also see that change will not come from that top, we have to be agents of change ourselves – hence secret ‘agents’.

This is for people who are in the system and want to change it from within.

So, are you with me? It would be really cool if you could join in, like I said, so just let me know or stay keen and then maybe I can eventually get to the end of this incredibly poorly-structured blog post.

You will hear more about this!!

Cheers,

Philip

PS: I’m looking at Friday 11th June as the date. We’ll do it in the evening, its after school, its the week after half term so teachers may have a chance of still being fairly fresh and we’ll keep it small and tidy and fun. Normal syntax will resume in the next post :)

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Education: What do we DO?

Posted 13 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Ideas, Rant, thought

Reading this book at the moment “What’s the Point of Schools?” by Guy Claxton.

Very interesting, so much so that I want to spend the whole day reading it, neglecting the renovation of my campervan that i was going to do.

My wife tells me that I always do this, it’s like OCD or something, but then I lose steam after exhausting my interest and go on to something else.

Something tells me I should listen to her. I think this is important enough for me to take it slowly and let the interest build, so I’ll just post my impressions so far.

What I’m feeling at the moment is that it is extremely annoying that education in this country is not better. There are so many quotes, anecdotes and solid statistics over the last century, that for us to be in basically the same position is a joke.

It is a joke that makes me very angry, to be honest.

What i want to know is, what are we actually going to DO?

The whole system feels like its in gridlock – schools, students, parents, governments – no one can do anything because they are all tied up together in a vicious-circle, self-fulfilling prophecy state of affairs.

So this is what I’m thinking of doing.

At Becta-x the other week, I was talking to Kate who basically challenged me to run an unconference about education.

Damn it, it looks like that’s what we’re going to have to do, because I just don’t see any action out there at the moment to suggest otherwise.

I have no idea how to do this, so if anyone feels like coming on board, please give me a shout. We’re going to need people to turn up, too, so get prepared to spread the word.

We’ll start off small in a central London location, of an evening, so that teachers can attend. This will happen by the end of the school year.

I want to know what other people, face to face, have to say about education – any part of education – and what we can actually do to improve it.

That is all for now. I’m off to read my book – no, work on my campervan!

Cheers,

Philip

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