What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?

Steve Jobs on US Education system (via 37Signals) Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don’t learn until you’re older – yet you could learn them when you’re younger. And you start to think, What would I do if I set a curriculum for a … Continue reading “What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?”

Steve Jobs on US Education system (via 37Signals)

Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don’t learn until you’re older – yet you could learn them when you’re younger. And you start to think, What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?
God, how exciting that could be! But you can’t do it today. You’d be crazy to work in a school today. You don’t get to do what you want. You don’t get to pick your books, your curriculum. You get to teach one narrow specialization. Who would ever want to do that?

This makes me think of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland “Tech Camp” which is usually covered by AlanInBelfast but I can’t find out much info about the 2010 delivery as the PCIYouth web server seems to be down. Bing has this:

PCI Youth Tech Camp

Alan himself writes:

For all its wires and wizardry, PCI’s Tech Camp forces me (and probably the other leaders too) to annually re-evaluate what it is I’d like the campers to go home having experienced, learnt and understood.

What if fourteen campers all ended up voxpopping, making videoing, animating, blogging and ringing out their PA systems to eliminate feedback in each of their congregations?

This brings out a sense of envy in me. PCI Tech Camp (religious connotations aside) is a model for something that could easily be replicated as an addition to school – either during the summer months or in the evenings. But is this not what the Digital Circle community already does with Refresh, XCake, Code4Pizza and even OpenCoffee and BarCamp? Is this not what the clever folk over at the Trans Urban Arts Academy manage each year?

We may not be able to easily manipulate the curriculum of the state-run school but we can certainly manage to enrich the extra-curricular. We should make all of our events not only accessible for those less physically able but also restrict our use of bars and locations which are not open to the young. Speaking with Paul McLean (@eightlab) about the educational exclusion that some young people experience – it reminds me of the exclusion we are working to resolve with LiveNet (part of Mencap) and the mentally- and physically-disabled (and therefore excluded).

What couldn’t you do armed with the right people, the right skills, the right passions?

0 thoughts on “What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?”

  1. I suspect Trans deserves a mention too – as a yearly opportunity, open to all, to be sheepdipped along with enthusiastic peers and trainers, in a different specialities.

    BarCamp Belfast – perhaps more so in 2009 – had some excellent sessions led by people still of school age.

    I remember well week-long computer camps being run out at UUJ when I was in my early teens, programming BBC Micros, and learning about WordStar and Lotus 123 (as well as an introduction to Infocom’s Zork and HHGTTG). Formative experiences. Much like the IT teacher (not that the school offered IT formally) who constantly stretched me with bits of self modifying machine code and Econet utilities to disassemble … happy days.

    PS: Tech Camp, run by the Presbyterian Church, is running from Wed 11 to Sun 16 August – and details should be on http://pciyouth.org when the site comes back online (look under events -> camps). Applications probably closing quite soon, but think there are some spaces available. Open to males as well as females! Get your own room in student halls – no camping. No organised sport either. As geeky as we can make it.

  2. That’s exactly my thoughts! I’m excited and impressed!

    I think as a primary school teacher today children need the opportunity to engage in new forms of learning and gain an experience of something they can be good at. No longer is it acceptable to *only* encourage children to be top sportsmen or women of the future, or to be fantastic musicians.

    We need to give children the opportunity to discover what they are good at while still young and still full of enthusiasm.

    With the changes to CCEA and how UICT is now part of the Eng/Maths accreditation system, children are getting to experience programming (scratch) media work through audacity or voicethread and basic animation and film making if the teacher is suitably interested in it.

    However resources are at a minimum. As someone reasonably able to hold a tech conversation I find the prospect of running an after school club to be an amazing opportunity and I can influence the ICT output of my school through an extracurricular activity or project. But the problem lies in all of those other schools whose staff immediately run a mile from anything tech related.

    I think its about gaining like minded teachers and introducing them to the range of camps and experiences to enhance their skills and then turning that around and encouraging more cross school links to allow the links to extend and enthuse more people. Otherwise you’re one link in an ocean of technophobia, principals and staff alike

  3. I’m really thankful that over the past year I’ve been able to influence if not outright set IT policy at our small, understaffed, underfunded school. Had I not had a background in IT things could have been very different, the problem comes from most staff not even realizing that the kids are missing out on something; that computing and the internet is a whole other that can be tapped into to excite learning and development. Like Simon said there are too many technophobes but an equal number of who just don’t know this is out there or what can be done. We’re running 30 machines and a sever on Edubuntu and Sugar, people are still amazed this software is free.

    How do we go about educating the educators?

  4. Hi Andrew,
    I guess that’s why I expressed an interest in getting folk like yourself (an educator with heaps of IT knowhow), Ian Robinson (an educational technologist), David Cleland (another IT-obsessed educator) together for a focussed workshop (probably with some other peeps) to talk about this sort of thing.

    With the BECTA and BSF stuff it’s topical (though their activities are mostly limited to Great Britain) and with current cuts, I think we should be looking at ways to innovate out of crises.

  5. I agree Matt and I’d be really happy to try and develop loads of ideas that could really bear a lot of fruit. We were one of the last schools to be recommended for the becta ict mark. Our boss was very keen to get it as very few primary schools have obtained it. But with the self review framework and mark comes a big responsibility. Clearly we’ve set a standard but we must improve and drive ict policy forward.

     It’s about real improvements that make real sense.

    I’ve also found really sensitive responses from simple initiatives. LearningNI is an ok VLE but it’s a great idea for schools. We get excited to incorporate and some schools freak out due to it’s perceived lack of regulation. Or on the other hand, the exchange element of the new ict lines of progression make schools save this for p7 only when it should be incorporated throughout the school.

    I’d love a dual pane storycubes app! That’s exactly the push educators need but I know for a fact many feel frozen out and a lack of visibility as to how these things can become reality stops you get creative elements from having a go.

    And how did anyone get round C2k to put on another OS? 

  6. Hardware donation is difficult to come by! As a managed system I think c2k is viable but at times irritating. I’ve had multiple calls from staff when our network drives are full and a push by DENI to have more digital evidence only further eats up our storage. C2k has to become more flexible to meet larger and smaller school needs as well as allowing technically fluent staff more movement. I’ve used vimeo a lot in my classroom but it’s only a matter of time until it’s found and blocked. An excellent resource removed by the system. I know a learning NI video on demand service is launching but after being involved in 2 troubleshooting pilots I’m yet to be 100% convinced

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