5 April, 2013
It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.
I’m not convinced.
Tools which don’t work as well as they should.
It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?
If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.
Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.
High Quality Tools
Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.
The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.
If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).
Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.
Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.
It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?