I keep six honest serving men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who
Rudyard Kipling: The Elephant’s Child
Asking and answering questions in the pursuit of our own training and development matters — but having a balanced approach is equally important. The frenzied feeding of the press off the tables of politicians, gurus and advisers has resulted in a deluge of information frequently presented as ‘gospel’. It has become more and more difficult for us on the receiving end to discern where real value lies and extract fact from fiction. As a result we tend to become increasingly more cynical or, at times, more fearful.
The digital explosion is one example. If you are not ‘up to speed’ or in the ‘know’ you’re likely to feel a little baffled … and somehow made to feel a little inferior. Presented with superhighways, the National Grid for Learning, interactive multimedia communication, spam mail, bandwidths, myriad virus warnings, core protocols, gateways and virtual private networking (amongst others), one can be forgiven for feeling a little apprehensive.
The relative importance of Information Technology (IT) in education is evident in the Government’s New Opportunity Fund of £230 million earmarked for the training of 400,000 teachers. Interestingly, within education, it was decided to change the acronym from IT to ICT (Information and Communications Technology) … and one can read in the educational press of ICT and non-ICT activities! So games must have become a non-ICT activity!!
Of its value there can be little doubt. IT has made our lives immeasurably easier … but are we any less busy? I think not. Quite simply, we have created more time to … do more work! In education there are mountains of software to choose from – some very good, much of it very mediocre.
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but there is also a great deal of misinformation, prejudice, and downright porky pies lurking around the next portal. You can find professional-looking sites telling you, in a very plausible fashion, that smoking does not cause cancer, that milk is dangerous to your health, and that the Holocaust never happened! And I dare say, if I looked long enough, I’d find a multitude of even quirkier sites. Perhaps it’s time to introduce a new core subject in our schools – Skepticism.
“What are we going to do?” Baby Tiger cowered behind her mother. “The hunter has a high-powered rifle with laser sites, a night scope and a computerised tracking device.” “Hush” replied Mama Tiger and showed her child how to creep around behind the hunter and pounce. The hunter was never heard of again. Which goes to show that technology may be fine, but it will never be a substitute for a good, basic education.