I've not blogged for a month now. New Academy resposibilities and changed home circumstances have forced me to use my time rather differently. It's not that I have stopped learning things that are worth passing on, and it's not that I've lost the passion - far from it. But I am reading less, too, and am beginning to feel starved of that very rich diet of blogs and tweets which have been feeding me and this blog for years now.
However, I had to share with you this article from Tony Attwood of Hamilton House Mailings Ltd. I quote it here in its entirety, and attribute it entirely to him.
"Some thirty or forty years ago a survey was undertaken among school students which showed that music was the most disliked lesson in secondary school. In more recent times the highly dubious honour of coming bottom of the “liked subject” list went to PSHE, and now it seems ICT is rated as a turn off. Indeed, as you may have seen, this summer the Royal Society expressed the view that the situation would lead to an unskilled workforce and threaten the UK's economy. It also reported that the number of pupils in England doing ICT GCSE had fallen 33% over three years along with a 33% fall between 2003 and 2009 in ICT A-level candidates.
The Royal Society is now undertaking a new study: Computing in schools and its importance and implications for the economic and scientific well-being of the UK. Researchers will look at curricula for ICT and computer science in schools, current exams and assessment processes, training for teachers, as well as the facilities and resources available in schools and colleges.
Chair of the study, Professor Steve Furber, said: "The UK has a proud history of leading the way in the field of computer science and associated disciplines, from the development of the world's first stored-program computers to more recent innovations such as the invention of the world-wide web.
"However, from this bright start, we are now watching the enthusiasm of the next generation waste away through poorly conceived courses and syllabuses.
If we cannot address the problem of how to educate our young people in inspirational and appropriate ways, we risk a future workforce that is totally unskilled and unsuited to tomorrow's job market."
But I wonder if I might have an insight into what the cause of the problem might be. All three subjects that I recall as spending a time at the bottom of the league table had one thing in common. They all related to a world that young people experience and claim as their own outside of school.
By which I mean that for most students, history is just something that they do in school – they don’t really get engaged in history beyond school organised activities. Same is true for science, maths, and even English, where much of their reading relates to work in the class. (Of course there are exceptions, but I think this is a general rule).
But with music, the issue always was that school students had their own music and the music in school had nothing to do with that. This changed once they could start creating music on Apple computers – music that related to the music they loved.
With PSHE there is always the problem of culture and peer pressure, where the PSHE teacher is working within the comparatively dry non-social atmosphere of the classroom, dealing with issues that are considered and dealt with on the street, in clubs, in the bedroom.
And so it is with ICT. The pupils and students we teach have their own ICT world which might include free access to the internet, Facebook, blogs, etc etc. If the world of school ICT is divorced from this “real” world, then there is always the danger of a decline in interest.
I know it is a contentious view, and of course there are many schools where such issues are readily overcome. I just wonder if any of this has crossed the mind of the Royal Society."
I cannot avoid mentioning that I blogged about this years ago. Is there ever to be a change?