This morning I was studying again for my PGCERT, and the subject of the lesson was 'Technology for Learning.'
It's difficult sometimes when you're sat in a situation like that and you sort of know everything that's being said. If you say too much you look like an arrogant know-it-all and if you say nothing people keep on talking at you about stuff you know.
I'd say I know a fair amount when it comes to technologies - and I'm ok at web technologies too. I don't know as much as some of you, but I'm ok. Also, as Central St Martins is supposedly one of the best design colleges in the world, I'd like to think the staff exemplify this. If the PGCERT has made any impression on me it's to question this thought.
Certainly I've seen more than one example from staff believing that they are the king of the castle and their students should work in their way. I'm of the opposite view. We are servents to the students and we need to inspire them to learn (within reason) in the manner that they understand and excel at. If they're using technologies such as blogs and wikis to communicate then staff need to know about them - or at the very least they need to understand them.
What was apparent to me this morning (to be fair, the teachers weren't all from St. Martins) was that there is a deep, deep lack of knowledge of even what I would class as the most basic web technologies. People were mixing up wikis with MySpace and asking the difference between podcasts and blogs. They're not IT teachers, granted, but as I said this morning - surely creativity is driven by the fact that we're inquisitive and we want to learn new things and understand things? There was very much the "I've got no time to do blogs" feeling this morning.
I don't think it's an intelligence thing. There were some very very clever people in that room, and what I could see was people not wanting to keep up with new methods of teaching and learning. There was a certain element who grasped every opportunity to rubbish new technologies and the basis that they are built upon. The old Wikipedia v Encyclopedia Britannica debate came up and while I'm more than happy to listen (and contribute) to both sides of the argument I'd expect a more balanced comment than "Britannica is experts, Wikipedia isn't." I asked someone to define 'expert' and the room went quiet (when I sort of expected someone to say "us!"...).
Most short sighted comment of the day was: "... and when I set them some work I want to see them reading books. Some of them come in with stuff they've found on Google... and some of it is awful!"... which displays a deep misunderstanding of the fact that Google is a search tool and in fact it's the decisions the student makes based around the information it brings up that should be acted on and marked. Like not taking every fact from one book...
Lessons like this morning get me down a bit. Whether we like it or not, students now have to stump up a lot of cash to study. If I had to stump up tens of thousands of pounds for a course at a good university I'd at least expect my teacher to understand the modern world and how it functions.
I've tried to write this in the least pious language possible. I'm not a know-it-all but I just feel for students whose teachers don't recognise good honest, in depth, intelligent research because it's been sourced via the web. Am I being too critical?