Today I was talking to my class about how they could research something for their current project at school. The only place they could think of to look was the internet and they really struggled to think of any other sources of information. I asked them what they would use if the internet didn’t exist – apparently it has always been there! I started to explain to the children that ‘when I was at school…’ cue a look of boredom about a history lesson from the dark ages!
I explained that my dad got a dial-up connection when I went away to university at the age of eighteen and I had to queue up to get on one of the ten public computers in the lab to e-mail home. That’s all we did; no surfing the internet, no Facebook and definitely no blogging! I tried to get them to imagine no internet – a task that they found really difficult. We made a list of all the things I use the internet for each week and they decided that my life would fall apart if my internet connection stopped for any reason – it did pretty much fall apart when the laptop died last November!
I often utter the immortal words ‘When I was at school…’; the kids either think that they’re really lucky that they didn’t have to put up with whatever I’m telling them about or they think that there could never have been a time when the internet didn’t exist/ I was terrified that my teacher would tell my mum what I’d been up to/ you had to wait for your camera film to be developed! I don’t think any of us realise how much life has changed in the last quarter of a century since I was their age.
Some of the new inventions have really changed the way we teach and learn for the better – my interactive whiteboard has changed the way I plan for and deliver my lessons compared to the blackboard I used in my first year of teaching and I use the internet when I’m studying research projects for my Masters course. However, I think that the amount of time my pupils spend on their computer games at home has a detrimental effect on their concentration levels the next day in school and I can spend a huge amount of time procrastinating about my work whilst stumbling around the internet!
During my last break from work I went away with my family and we stayed in a cottage where there was a very iffy wireless connection. I couldn’t even get on the internet on my phone as the signal was so poor! It was actually fantastic – properly out of the loop for a few days – it was so peaceful! I played with my nephew, went on days out and actually read a book that was nothing to do with work for once in my life. But I did begin to miss it; I had a bit of a need to read the news and wanted to find out what my friends were up to on their holidays.
As a teacher I need to be aware of the different technologies are available to my children and teach them to use them in the right way, but I also need to remind them that some of the ‘old’ stuff is just as useful and encourage them to use that… I live in eternal hope!