Thursday, September 22, 2005

I'm only happy when it rains

I've been meaning to post something on David Warlick's post Our Schools are Leaking for ages, but I was surprised to discover he made the post almost a month ago! He talks about how children don't even think about using technology. They don't even necessarily think about it as anything special - it's just there. It has always been there. It's there, you use it, it's just there!

I don't think I'm a digital native, but I like to think I have dual citizenship. Recently I discovered how little I think about the technology I carry when I flew from Glasgow to Stornoway. When I went through the metal detector, it beeped. Oops - I had forgotten about my mobile phone. It went on the X-Ray machine, but still I beeped. Oh - my Palm PDA. The security people obviously thought I was at it, so I was taken aside and frisked. It seemed that every time they touched a pocket, I pulled out another bit of electronic gubbins. A USB memory stick, a battery for my digital camera, an mp3 player, ... I have never been so thoroughly frisked in my life! (Look up Stornoway on Google Map if you have to - it's not exactly an obvious terrorist target!) I don't fly very often and I just hadn't thought about all the stuff I had in my pockets... it's just there, I use it!

I read with interest therefore a BBC report Exams ban for mobile phone users. The report says almost 300 students were "... disqualified from exams in England last summer for malpractice involving mobile phones." The report clearly suggests that all these mobile users were up to no good and seems to only grudgingly admit that they may have "inadvertently taken handsets into the exam hall." Of course some would have been trying to cheat - students have always tried that - but I suspect there were many who just took their phones in without thinking. It is always in their pocket or bag, why should this day be any different?

As David says:
Through their mobile phones, wireless handhelds, mobile game systems, their laptops, and a simple, yet pervasive sense of a broader world that ignores time and distance, our children's attention is leaking out of our classrooms, our textbooks, and our state and national standards.

The question that looms overhead is...

Do we continue to container our children, amputating their intellectual appendages during "learning" time?


Do we try to integrate learning into the flow of their attentions, taking advantage of the new porous nature their lives, using their appendages to connect children to the world that we are teaching them about?

The title of the post comes from a song by Garbage. If our schools are leaking, should we ban the technology that causes the leaks or should our attitude more like the lyrics in the song?
I'm only happy when it rains
I'’m only happy when it'’s complicated
And though I know you can'’t appreciate it
I'm only happy when it rains

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P.S. I wanted to get this out the way before turning to posts based on stuff I heard/saw at SETT. More later... probably.

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