Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

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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Faith Schools #ukedchat

Posted 08 Sep 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant, thought

A friend recommended the Pod Delusion, and I was intrigued by this podcast, which deals with Faith Schools, amongst other interesting things.

Having worked for six years in Faith Schools, I must say that I don’t feel it’s as bad as the British Humanist Association makes out.

They paint a picture of discrimination, indoctrination and a narrowing of horizons, that frankly I just do not agree with.

There was no place on the BHA’s website that I could leave a comment or express my views, so i am choosing to do that here, although more to get it off my chest than convince others.

My experience of Faith Schools has been one of nurturing and caring for the individual and the community. I fail to see how non-faith schools can tap into an accepted moral framework without reference to religious doctrine. In my opinion this doctrine provides a tried and tested, ready made scaffold to individual expression and personal growth.

I do not think it appropriate to explain in scientific terms how the world works to a small child, who will be, and should be, thinking in more abstract and mysterious terms than an adult. As science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, (or god, if you like), I do not feel that scientific doctrine has the facility to guide people on how to live their lives.

Don’t get me wrong – I am a scientist; Evolution, Darwin, technology – all good. Also, I am not religious in the conventional sense – but I do reserve the right to believe what the heck I want about the world around me and ‘why’ we are here. Science provides fascinating and compelling evidence of the mind-blowing elegance and beauty of the world around us – but it provides ‘how’ rather than ‘why’.

I referred to religious doctrine as a good thing. I’d like to point out the difference between doctrine and dogma, where the former, as I comprehend it, is following an established pattern for an explicitly understood reason, and the latter is without understanding – blind. Both science and religion have both doctrine and dogma (whether they like it or not) – any system that has human beings in it will tend towards dogma, as people crave a framework that they can rely on and not think about any more (constantly reevaluating your baseline assumptions is extremely hard, and is to be respected in both religion and science).

However, having now read the Dossier on Independent Evidence on Faith Schools I am in turmoil, being presented with a goodly amount of statistics and informed opinion that runs contrary to my own experience (reevaluating those assumptions!).

There doesn’t seem to be a very good case for faith schools, I’m afraid. Many of the comments, including those of the NUT, refer to increasing inclusion across all schools, and not just faith schools. It appears that social impact of faith schools is worse in some parts of the country than others, and it that if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender then you are not going to have a good time at a faith school.

My mind remains open – to the views of others on their reasons for the hinting down and eliminating of faith schools, and to my own experience of faith schools being friendly, supportive and positive environments to work and learn in.

I suspect, as I end this rant, that the significant factor that will lend itself to successful schools is not faith or non-faith, but to the quality of its management, as in the schools that I have worked in.

Cheers,

Philip

PS: this is a BLOG. it is not a scientifically researched paper and all opinions expressed are my own. I have not made up my mind about this topic, and remain open to reasoned argument and persuasion either way. Hope you enjoyed it – now get back to work!

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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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Good Breath (Typewriter Bubble)

Posted 11 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Stories, Typewriter Bubble

Click for a closer view

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