Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 16

19 January 2024

Dear Parents,

Our Year 7 boys have experienced their very own educational revolution this term with the provision of one-to-one devices.  Giving school children ‘screens’ when parents so often say to us, “How do we get our children off screens?” is an educational paradox that has concerned institutions for the last few years but there is no doubt that, well managed, the benefits do heavily outweigh the negatives.  With so many useful educational platforms online, the clarity of presentation for children (particularly boys) who have poor handwriting skills (like me), the ability to organise one’s work in a central area, the opportunity for immediate and communicative feedback, and ultimately, a more reflective representation of how the world of work operates means that schools, like ours, are right to embrace the technology in this way.  I was fascinated to learn when attending Open Days for universities with Patrick that for many courses these days there are no exams, rather, the students are set projects which they have to submit at the end of a set timeframe, much like you would in the workplace.  Seems eminently sensible to me and certainly takes the heat and jeopardy out of those stressful end of year exams.

The feedback from our boys and from what I have seen in class has been very positive; it’s not perfect, was never going to be after a few weeks and our management and teaching will adapt accordingly but so far, I have been really impressed with the engagement and aptitude of the boys and colleagues.  I can trace and remember my own educational technological journey very clearly.  From BBC computers when I was young that no-one (even the teachers) knew how to use properly, to writing my dissertation on WordPerfect at UCL where we had to book computer time, to my first teaching job where the school implemented electronic devices to take the register (the unions were up in arms as they perceived it a threat to replacing the form teacher), to issuing of school email accounts at my third teaching post, to interactive whiteboards throughout the school in 2004, the governors issuing me with a Blackberry when I first become a Head in 2007 so I was always contactable…things have changed in many ways in terms of technology but as teachers and educational professionals do we address the children, their parents and each other any differently?  I don’t think any of us do, it’s just a different way of working.

And to those (many) parents that I have spoken to over the years about the addiction of computer games…as a parent, I can assure you that as much as a boy might be obsessed with Fortnite, Minecraft, Terraria or whatever at a time in their young lives, it does wear off and they do, gradually, start to focus on other things, I promise.  In fact, they go full circle and end up retro.  OK, he should have been revising, and let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he was on a break before his final mock exam, but Patrick sent me this image this morning.  A timeless, back to basics, simple pursuit and a real sense of achievement with not a PlayStation controller in sight – proud of that boy…

Have a good weekend,

Nick Baker

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