Last Tuesday's Irish Times features an article on Kids use PCs at home yet write by hand at school. It's antediluvian. It is a column "designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously". I don't know who wrote the article, but he/she certainly speaks for a lot of parents and for those in education.
|Image link to Edutopia.org.|
In the article a parent writes about their son who spends a lot of time on his computer at home, and very little time on a computer at school where most work is still done by hand. The argument is that this is no preparation for working life and that this is "so absurd when you consider what most people’s working lives are like nowadays: everything is based around a computer. Everything we write is typed into one program or another".
Parents are hearing all the time that there are jobs in IT - indeed yesterday I was at a stand in NCI's Open Day at which this years school 6th years attended, and I told any prospective student who asked about computing that there are jobs in IT. Some were wondering how much knowledge of computers did they need to do a Computer Science course.
So are students prepared for College/work? Almost all students who come to the College now are digitally literate. This means that they can use a computer to do based things like send/receive email, look up stuff on the web, and create a Facebook page. They do not yet know about programming, computer architecture, electronics, operating systems, and software engineering. Many schools have ECDL programmes as part of Transition Year - but by the time students have finished the leaving certificate two years later they will have forgotten most of what they have learned (especially if they don't use any of what they have learned). ECDL and Facebook is not enough for the real world.
So I agree with the anonymous Irish Times writer that technology should be a more important part of education. The trouble is that it costs a lot of money - not everybody can afford a laptop, and the Department of Education certainly can't afford it. To spend more would mean sacrificing something else. Dare I say that the money spent on educating students to learn Irish (which many cannot speak after 14 years in our education system) would be better spent on technology?