January 11, 2012 4 Comments
The english language, unlike computer coding, is beautiful. The language is ever changing, different words from different counties make it the language of business and love. It allows for many words or expressions to be used in many different ways. It has rules that can be broken without any seeming rhyme nor reason.
The english language, unlike computer coding, is open for interpretation. One word or expression can mean something different, depending on the context and the way in which it has been used. For instance, when Michael Gove says ‘From this September, all schools will be free to use the amazing resources that already exist on the web‘. What he really means is ‘From this September, all schools will be cut loose to wade through the myriad of resources that already exist‘.
The idiom ‘cut something‘ loose means ‘to get rid of something’. To abandon, to give up on something. Today, Michael Gove ridded himself of ICT; cut it loose from government control and influence.
The speech that Michael Gove delivered today wasn’t wholly without merit. There were many aspects of these proposals that ICT teachers have been trumpeting in forums for years. For instance, by having an open source policy it is allowing teachers the freedom to breathe new life into the curriculum. As a result, we should see the subject reinvigorated with fresh ideas that will allow the scope of the curriculum to broaden and tap into unexplored or lesser travelled routes of learning. To a certain degree, it will allow each school/academy to tailor its delivery of ICT to the needs of its student body and therefore make differentiation less time consuming.
For all the positives there are of course the obvious negatives. There are real concerns about how this open source approach will work in real terms, at the removable dry-wipe marker face. Too much scope and schools will end up with too broad a curriculum that tries to be all things to all people but ends up being as thin as a LED-VDU. When new exam courses are written, schools will end up teaching to the exam as they do now, therefore negating any such freedoms given.
The single biggest issue will be getting the teachers in to deliver the new curriculum. Gove placed emphasis on training for teachers. Will this training be free? Probably not. Will it be available for a September start? Probably not. Teachers need the training, after all, you wouldn’t allow someone to teach maths if they couldn’t add up. The training will be offered at great expense by the very companies now calling for fundamental change.
Which brings us to Michael Gove’s true and unwritten agenda. In his speech today he set the wheels in motion towards his ultimate aim. Which is a curriculum that is designed and built based on what private companies think are important. He has already stated that he has no ideological opposition with companies making a profit out of education.
It should take no-one by surprise that these proposals were announced at BETT, the world’s leading event for educational technology. By cutting ICT loose from government control and handing the reins over to Google and IBM, he is allowing education to be dictated to by market forces. With government cutting ICT loose and getting out of the way, there will be no-one to guide institutions as to what works and what doesn’t. The market will decide and as we have learnt from recent history, the market doesn’t always get it right.
Yes, there are some positives in this speech and some good will come out of it, it always does. However, I would say that Michael Gove, under the pretence of setting ICT free, has in fact, simply cut the subject loose. Abandoning it to fend for itself against private industry and interest who see only pound signs not exam marks.