Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Guardian: Blogging / Podcasting / Twitter / Wikipedia - The Future Of (UK) Education?

Pupils to Study Twitter and Blogs in Primary Schools Shake-up

• New curriculum will give teachers more freedom

• Second world war and Victoria not compulsory

Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

However, the draft plans will require children to master
Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.

The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow
schools greater flexibility in what they teach.

It emphasises traditional areas of learning - including phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic - but includes more modern media and web-based skills as well as a greater focus on environmental education.

The plans have been drawn up by Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted chief who was appointed by ministers to overhaul the primary school curriculum, and are due to be published next month.

The papers seen by the Guardian are draft plans for the detailed content of each of six core "learning areas" that Rose is proposing should replace the current 13 standalone subject areas.


The proposals would require:


• Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

• Children to be able to place historical events within a chronology. [snip]


• Less emphasis on the use of calculators than in the current curriculum.

• An understanding of physical development, health and wellbeing programme, ... .

The six core areas are: understanding English, communication and languages, mathematical understanding, scientific and technological understanding, human, social and environmental understanding, understanding physical health and wellbeing, and understanding arts and design.


John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "It seems to jump on the latest trends such as Wikipedia and Twitter. [snip]

Traditional books and written texts are downplayed in response to web-based learning."

Teresa Cremin, president of the United Kingdom Literacy Association, said: "We are very pleased to see a higher profile given to oracy but we are concerned that there seems to be no drama in the upper primary years linked to literacy. [snip]

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "They are much more sensible programmes of study. We are pleased they give the profession much more flexibility to meet the needs of their pupils. Children need to be enthused by learning, so they want to learn and gain the skills which will enable them to learn in later life.[snip]

[snip]

The Department for Children, Schools and Families, which initially refused to comment on the leaked report, issued a statement last night setting out its "general position" on history in
primary schools. "Of course pupils in primary school will learn about major periods including the Romans, the Tudors and the Victorians and will be taught to understand a broad chronology of major events in this country and the wider world," it said.

Source

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/mar/25/primary-schools-twitter-curriculum]

Companion Audio

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/audio/2009/mar/25/primary-school-curriculum-computer]

NOTE: What Will They Do Next? Sanction Membership In Social Networks [:-)

4 comments:

Gregory said...

If this appeared on April 1st, I would have thought it a farce.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the new proposal has confused “learning tool” with “knowledge”.

Emma said...

I think Bang's point is valid: "John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "It seems to jump on the latest trends such as Wikipedia and Twitter" - though possibly not in the context he (may have) said it.
Having not heard all of his comments, I'm guessing that he wasn't being overly enthusiastic.

My view would be that it's a good idea ... as long as we aren't tying them to Wikipedia & Twitter specifically. Knowing the length of time it takes ideas to become recommendations & then into the classroom, Twitter might well have gone the way MySpace is apparently heading.

The concept of using tools to gather ideas (and, of course, how to validate the information gained, as well as being safe online etc., etc., etc.,)are, I feel, important skills. Knowing how to use Twitter specifically mayn't be.

Hopefully, given the general comments about the current (English) national curriculum being too prescriptive & test driven will be noted in the new recommendations - which will, with luck, give schools & teachers more flexibility - so those that want to can introduce more web oriented ideas - but also others can introduce other things that seem to have waned recently (e.g. art, drama, imaginative play etc., etc., etc., )

Anonymous said...

When can I move?

I think the importance of this innovation is not which technologies will be taught or which periods of history will not be taught, but the fact that they are giving teachers the freedom to concentrate on whatever their students want to learn. The current literature suggests that students will learn more when they are self-motivated, i.e, when they choose what they want to learn. This type of student-centered education is nearly impossible in most U.S. public schools, because they are stuck in these rigid curricula that do not allow teachers room for innovation.

Kudos to them for trying to bring in a fresh perspective!