I owe Steve Collis a case of beer. The only reason I wanted to go to ACEC was to see how Gary Stager addressed the audience – which is substantially bigger than the previous event. The message was fairly subtle, and at times he attacked the edumacators in the room for not changing practice, just changing the tools. He took his usual rapier sword to the involvement of politics in education and really slammed many of the usual come-backs people offer as to why they are using tech better than the person in the room next to them.
I think it was pitched at the newcomers – and in that case, he blew the doors off their comfort zone. He used a few examples of how learning is can be better – but I thought that many would not have got the more subtle messages about the learning and teaching strategy that enables this to happen. He basically said that nothing has changed in 30 years of computing in schools, the same few are now tinkering with what they are provided, about 5% of teachers. He did say that ICT reduces the value of what should remain Computing Science, an idea that I wrote about last week.
He said this is a dark period of education, and slammed the government for it’s failure to address the real issues – scathing of Julia Gillard’s view that National Curriculum will work, given it has failed in every other country that it has been tried – and then said how this process leads to entire staff bodies being fired in US schools. Future creep perhaps.
He also said that teachers need to value themselves, as their value is being eroded – as it is in the USA. This is something else I’ve previously spoken about, even yesterday – teachers must seek formal recognition for their extended learning – which is invisible.
I liked the show – I think it hit the newcomers in the audience between the eyes. As these people are giving up their time and money to be here, I worry about this approach, as it really scares the crap out of those even brave enough to venture to Melbourne.
I wondered how ACCE will advocate for change to government – how they will take Gary’s message to them – and how we can tell what the outcome is for classroom teachers. I found the message was almost presidential; but as the room emptied for morning tea – I didn’t see anything more that more dark clouds in much of it, so wonder how it played out in the after-conversations.
My curiosity was flushed, I haz been Stagered, but this blood, sweat and tears stuff – I have find carries little resonance into the classroom, and the people in the audience don’t participate on an ongoing basis with associations, don’t lobby government and don’t want to lead a revolution, but it’s a message that they need to hear, to stop them settling.
There are dark times for teachers ahead if they don’t start waking up to what Gary is saying here. The dark clouds on the horizon will bring more than pedagogical change.