A draft curriculum review of the British education system calls for primary school pupils to learn how to use Twitter, Wikipedia, blogging and podcasts as part of their school studies.
The proposals also suggest that history topics such as the Victorian era and World War II be given less time in the curriculum. The final version of the review is due out next month.
“The Cowfield” blog rejects the curriculum shake-ups, arguing that technology is over-emphasized:
As a history scholar, I firmly believe more should be done to encourage people to question their pasts, and to connect the present with what has gone on before. The suggestions [in the proposals] indicate that this is no longer a concern for governmental officials. Instead, it seems, we should be encouraging the ‘life skills’ of how to use Twitter, or how to blog.
[…]I really do not think that further use of Twitter, Wikipedia et al should be encouraged. Many people are already moaning that there is too much exposure to the internet and computers, so surely encouraging further exposure should be frowned upon? At a period where we are frequently told of the growing obesity problem, surely placing kids in front of another screen cannot help? I’m still not sure what was wrong with classrooms and books personally.
Several commenters weighed in on the story in response to an article at the “TechCrunch” blog, both in support of and against the proposals:
Wendy wrote: We’re in a post PC era, my four year old uses youtube on my iphone, my 18mth old daughter plays with the bubblewrap app. To them it’s just part of life and nothing special. I’m all in favour of an overhaul to schools curriculum with regards to tech and media however I’m a little skeptical that putting Twitter on the agenda is just the government jumping on a fad. More optimistically they’re just mentioning this to get picked up on the news and there is a more considered well researched programme of change behind this?
Bas wrote: I think children should get lessons in thinking and in information retrieval. Yes, they should still be taught about history, etc. Yes, it’s important they learn stuff that they could need ‘on the spot’ – like calculating skills. However, we can go a little bit easier on drilling the information in – by the time they’re 25, augmented reality will be a fact and not even a luxury. We’ll be able to retrieve information at any time, any place, about almost anything, without even moving our hands to grab our handhelds.
Another British blogger at “Zeitgeist” says it’s “more dumbing down,” blasting the government:
I think the those people in authority are the ones who need educating. Children already know far more about the web than most adults! What is going on? Why does the government continuously insist on getting it wrong? Because getting it right would cost a lot more money, and it would probably take a lot longer than 4 years, and as most people realise the government only see[s] up to 4 years in to the future, they never think long-term.
At the “Twitterati” blog, Josh Crowse comments that the introduction of social media tools into curriculum may have a reverse effect:
Translation: in 10 years, students will have grown to hate twitter and wikipedia, after having to use them as part of daily homework.
Some American schools ban Twitter, including that of Minnesota teacher “Knaus,” who writes in support of the site as a learning tool:
I love Twitter. I use it three ways. I have a Twitter for my classroom that is private, a Twitter for my family that is connected to Facebook, and a school tech Twitter for my teaching and learning in and through technology. Having different Twitters lets me keep my information specific to each topic and I can’t “over Tweet.” I really wish it was unblocked at my school. I think it would be great for my students to use.