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Posts Tagged ‘recruitment

This was a tweet that was both funny and sad.

Many people in the so-called first world carry phones in their pockets or bags that are portals to the world’s information. They seem to be underutilised when their typical use is “to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers”.

Not just these uses, of course, but more of the same. As a result, these are very much less than what phones could be used for.

I say that phones are misused, particularly in schools, if their full power is not harnessed. Today’s mobile phones are not just handy Google portals. They are also:

  • Connectors to more knowledgeable others
  • Collators of news and information
  • Providers of sounding boards
  • Oases of ideas
  • Amplifiers of messages
  • Translators of many languages
  • Tools for making e-portfolio artefacts
  • Navigators to resources and treasures
  • Monitors and managers of our time and energy

And so much more.

But so little of this potential is used for learning in schools because dominant pedagogy is shaped by the past and driven by fear. Consider how the list of possibilities quickly becomes one of worries about:

  • Cheating
  • Misinformation
  • Spreading propaganda
  • Radical indoctrination
  • Creating confusion
  • Wasting of time and energy


The same tool or instrument in different hands does different things.

A hammer in the hands of a vandal destroys public property. A hammer in the hands of a skilled worker repairs that damage.

A violin in the hands of an amateur might sound like a cat being disembowelled. A violin in the hands of an artist soothes the savage beast.

The difference in mindset and practice is down to the type of teachers and how we prepare them. The type of teachers is a function of recruitment. Preparation is a function of professional development. Recruitment does not offer a perfect filter; professional development is an attempt to manage the people you have.

If teachers are underutilising mobile technology or misusing it, what are we doing to right this wrong?

Every time there is an economic downturn, the numbers increase here in NIE. (I’ve been an educator in NIE since 1996 in some capacity or other, so I know!) MOE steps up teacher recruitment of folks who, to paraphrase what teacher trainees have told me, "actually wanted to be teachers" or  "want more stable jobs".

I don’t have a bone to pick with these potential recruits. They may or may not have less than ideal motives, but they may also have life and work experiences that can prove valuable in and outside the various learning environments (notice how I did not use the term classroom).

Instead, I question the way MOE opted to sell education as a career in the display outside Raffles Place. I was not there to see it myself, but I saw a photograph of the display. [Archive of related articles collected by someone else]

2008-12-10 MOE classroom display The link to the archive does not include the photo above that I scanned from the local rag. The photo made me wonder why MOE opted to sell the classroom environment as a “rank and file” one.

Was it to appeal to the folks who were used to that environment? Was it perhaps to reassure them that modern learning environments were orderly or ideal (like car ads with little or no traffic)?

Real learning environments are more dynamic and messy now. They will only get worse (or better, depending on your perspective) in the future! Perhaps the publicity arm did not have enough money to put up a more elaborate and accurate display. Then again, perhaps they did not have the imagination to think outside the traditional classroom box, especially if they were products of such a classroom!

My critique may sound harsh, but I think that new teachers need to know what modern learning environments need to be like in order to prepare our children for the now and the future.

The folks at Raffles Place will already know the harsh realities of the working “classroom”. I hope that they will bring this view with them when I welcome some of them in my classes. The same classes that take place in a lab, studio, Second Life, and various Web 2.0 environments!

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