In the above video from Tanya Byron’s keynote speech at the 2011 FOSI conference, she explains her response to the government when faced with this question. She speaks with such passion and conviction and I found myself nodding with excitement all the way through.
I think there are 2 key points to this argument. Firstly that education needs to be made more relevant to children’s everyday experience. Children live in a multimedia world and are excited by it. Bringing this multimedia world into their education will make learning more exciting and when learning is exciting we achieve better results.
My 7 year old often says school is boring and she hates writing. She is one of the brightest children in her class, if she finds it boring imagine how the least able children feel. Which brings me to the second point. Education in this country is about whether or not you are academic, if you are academic you are clever , otherwise you are not and pushed down a seemingly less important vocational route. This notion of what ‘clever’ is forms from the very beginning of school and unfortunately it is often boys who are not academic and would prefer to do something more active. Unsurprisingly the gap between boys and girls widens.
When children lack motivation they misbehave and eventually give up on school altogether ( as happened with my younger brother). Technology has so much promise as a way of engaging children and raising standards. It is relevant to their lives and gives them skills for their future. My own daughter’s teacher recognised that children of this generation will be unlikely to use pen and paper as a main source of writing in the future. Yet there is still fear about doing something different and worries that they have insufficient equipment .
This is why we need inspirational leaders, with ideas, energy and enthusiasm to show teachers what can be done. If enough influential people share this message, perhaps one day we will be heard.