I've had a bit of time to think about the reaction to my appearance on the media last week where I was discussing the extended Dr Kawashima intervention that I am carrying out in four local authorities throughout Scotland after the Easter Break. An intervention funded by Learning and Teaching Scotland through their Consolarium initiative.
Supportive texts received immediately after my appearance included:
"Press the red button to go interactive? I did this and selected the translate from Dundonian option." Stuart Lennie
"Megastar! Stay on and audition for the part of Nancy with Graham Norton!" Con Morris
In case you missed it here is a clip posted by Ewan McIntosh (copyright of the BBC) of one of the discussions that I had on BBC Breakfast:
Michele Ledda from the Manifesto Group said on the programme that computer games were "harmless enough and useful". However, he did not think they had a place in the class and that there was a crisis of authority because people like me are suggesting that new technologies such as games do have a valid and important role to play in teaching and learning. He also made light of continued attempts to investigate a variety of ways in which we can help maximise learners full potential. His reference to fish oil, which apparently is good for the brain, and then his bizarre reference to snake oil did not I feel aid his argument. One must remember that if you get snake oil on your DS then it will invalidate the warranty!
Before the chat with Michele Ledda there was another chat with a gentleman called David Perks who is physics teacher in London.
David seemed to be suggesting that we were saying that school was boring and that this was part of the problem. I can't ever remember saying that in any context whatsoever and I was perplexed as to why he would say this when he really did not appear to know very much at all about the work that we have been doing. I think we both agreed that, as I said, good teachers will use good resources. The only difference is that it appears that I am prepared to explore non-conventional ways of engaging the already engaged but more importantly those learners whose potential is not in any way realised because the existing model does not work for them. Have a look at David Muir's post about this discussion.
I then appeared on Radio 5 Live with Nicky Campbell and Sheila Foggerty. My 'opponent' this time was a lady from the Campaign for Real Education. Have a listen and ©BBC.
I thought that 'Real Education' was the business that I am in until I heard what this lady was proposing and I then realised that I probably wouldn't be allowed in. It seems we need to go back to 'old-fashioned ways' of teaching and not to confuse matters with nonsense such as games. Her idea was to run Saturday classes where flash cards could be used to help children learn. Dearie dearie me, as I said at the time 'The past is like a foreign country, people do things differently there." (Opening line from the Go-Between by L.P Hartley...a fantastic book with Julie Christie in the film!!!) We can't afford to live in the past and we must look to the present and the future to ensure that pupil's experiences are relevant, effective, challenging and above all worth coming to school for.
However, the comment that I feel disappointed me the most came in the BBC Scotland investigation that Ken MacDonald did. I thought it was generally an excellent piece; well-balanced, well-researched and thoughtful except I feel for the comment made by Professor James Logie, a neuroscientist from Edinburgh University. He stated that what concerns him is that we see this as a 'panacea to cure all ills'. Again, I ask...where and when have I or any of my colleagues who are looking at the role of new technologies in teaching and learning ever made such a statement. It is all about appropriateness of the resource and how teachers use them effectively. At the end of every presentation that I make about my work I say that we are not suggesting that this is a panacea for everything but that it is yet another way that teachers may package the curriculum, if they feel that it is appropriate for the learners in their class. Again, I state that good teachers use good resources!!!
Overall the feedback has been excellent in terms of the interest in the project but also in terms of the enquiries from many other schools about what we are doing and how we plan to do it. It seems that other people want to try a similar thing...
I don't wish to appear as if I can't take criticism, that certainly is not the case as debate is what helps people grow. I just despair at an attitude that is still out there that we should continue with how we currently do things and that if anyone comes along with an idea that maybe comes from a leftfield, that has shown some interesting results and has resonated with teachers and pupils then the kneejerk reaction from many people is to knock it.
I'm really looking forward to carrying out my extended Kawashima intervention and to see what the results show. Who knows? If they do indicate real impact then we really will have something to debate but if it doesn't then it shouldn't stop us from exploring new ideas...should it?
Let's see what happens.