Why I iPad

One of my most important roles is to find and employ the very, very best people.

Next most important is getting the best people to do the right thing - not usually that hard to achieve.

Next most important is to hang on to those best people and ensure there is continued employment for them.

That implies keeping children and gaining new children. That means we need to offer a compelling teaching team - tick - and a compelling point of difference - our Vision, Mission and Daily Practices.

One of the cornerstones of the new Curriculum Document is inculcating a ‘life-long learning’ attitude in our children (I would say learners).

This attitude comes from awakening interest and arousing passion. This ensures engagement, and leads to attitude change, even paradigm shifts in individuals.

Our pre-teens are a very different creature in this the age of digital natives. They expect to have their phone with them all the time, and to be constantly connected to several ‘friends’ at any given time. They expect - grudgingly - to have to ‘power down’ for class, and often powering down becomes more a case of switching off.

Sharing a computer is not cool. The internet is a one to one experience. When you find something cool, I want to go to it on my portal device, not yours, and you want that too. We don’t say to kids, here class, share these four books between you today as you all do your work. We don’t have a queue waiting to use the class pencil! So why do we have one, maybe two computers in a typical classroom?

Engage me or enrage me is the challenge according to Prensky. Sylwester says we have 18 seconds to engage the limbic system or the brain goes elsewhere for stimulus. For many, the curriculum is there to be delivered, and whether it is consumed, devoured or, more often, ignored like greens on a five year old’s dinner plate, is up to the ‘consumer’ student.

Many may feel this is not ‘right’. They may feel that discipline is needed and punitive measures should be applied. The harsh reality is, we cannot compel anyone to do anything against their will. You can lead a learner to water but you cannot force them to drink.

So what then?

How about something radical. Instead of asking, “how do we stop these kids texting all day?”. Why not ask, “how can we support them to use their exceptional texting skills to assist them to learn?”

It’s all a matter of perspective. A river always finds its own way to the sea. We need to help our learners find their own way, not ours. My ways are not your ways. It may be useful for you to see how my ways can work for me, and equally me to see how your ways work for you. I should not expect there to be one way, and that to be mine.

So we need to use new technologies - they’re natives, that’s what they do most of their waking, non schooling hours.

We need to make it engaging - appealing to their emotions, relating to their world-experience, their dreams and their perspective.

We need to encourage them to problem solve their own way to the solution. Our world has huge problems that require totally new thinking if they are to be solved, resolved or adjusted to.

They need information that is relevant, real, and up to the minute. Text books are mostly out of date the day they are written, never mind the day they get into kids’ hands.

They need their own one to one portal to the world - to communication that is more immediate than email. To knowledge that is up to the minute not up to last century. They need tools that encourage them to practice through fun - games, challenge, levels of difficulty, inherent rewards, collaboration etc.

So what is the answer?

It is clear to me that we cannot find the funds for class sets of laptops for all. So we need to find the next best thing... iPads. 

Lots of our children have them at home, or have access to mum’s or dad’s.

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