My 12-year old daughter is about to start secondary school (in Australia). I am obliged by the school to buy a tablet computer for her. I don’t mind, they aren’t too expensive any more.
A recent report by ‘BBC News education correspondent’ Sean Coughlan made me angry. He tried to make a point that tablets in schools don’t improve results.
The article completely misrepresents the place of tablet computers in school. The author could not possibly have teenage children, and he surely has little or no experience with teaching in school.
Tablets don’t “improve results.” That’s not what they are for. To foist this absurdity demonstrates only that he set out from the start to denigrate the very idea of tablets in schools.
It did not escape my attention that in the third paragraph he claims that students take their tablets to bed to do social networking—as if that is the norm. Social networking is strictly forbidden via the tablet that my daughter uses for school, and teachers check it.
The best argument he gives in support of tablets in schools is an out-of-context throw-away line from a headmaster that tablets “create a ‘sense of empowerment’ for young people and create an ethos in which pupils can feel ‘trusted and valued’.” This is true, but hardly the main point.
The author just wants us to accept his premise that using tablets in schools is just a worthless, artsy-fartsy endeavour.
That’s just crap. It is disappointing to find this article in the BBC press. People who are cynical about tablets in school are stuck at the 1960s model of education: line students up in rows, shove a curriculum down their throats, and make sure they know that the teacher is in control. For most older authors, that’s what they grew up with. Well, times have changed for the better.
The reason that our children use tablets in school is because tablets afford different and better ways to learn and connect to the world beyond the classroom, to seek out multiple authorities. Tablets open new learning pathways to autonomous and collaborative exploration and problem solving. Tablets free teachers to be mentors and facilitators, rather than just voices of authority. The methods also offer teachers more time to address the needs of individuals.
Learning is more than inculcating facts and procedures and achieving high test scores. It is about equipping kids with the skills for lifelong learning and performance. And becoming a global citizen.
Do we have to counsel our children not to treat their tablets like toys? Yes, of course. I accept that parenting challenge because it is worth it.
I hope my daughter takes every advantage of the developmental opportunities that tablets open.
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