Related: Are you parenting kid’s under 13 who play computer, video or mobile games? – Please add your experience to my research here.
School’s have adopted new technologies over the last decade. Unfortunately, this has been a highly politically charged effort which has resulted in further disadvantage and disparities in comparison to many private schools. I believe that teachers and schools have focused on adoption issues and what software to use to better teach (and compete) and have failed to acknowledge and find synergy with societies increasing media-consumption. I short, whether at public or private, schools technology is constructively aligned with political views, economic competition and long-held teacher attitudes. School is not teaching children to use technology or media in any systematic way. Schools are systems, they are based on scarcity – where teachers provide information, knowledge and skills, which can only be had – at school. I am not saying school doesn’t provide children with useful skills and information – simply that there’s no evidence so far to suggest it does that better with it’s current ideology, approach and belief about what technology is or what it’s used for.
Sociological research into parenting and the media illuminates numerous issue with schools assuming the lead (most correct) position to teach children about technology and media. Firstly, most children in Australia are growing up in media-rich homes. Secondly, schools dismantled ‘computing science’ decades ago, convinced that on-going domestication of computers reduced the need for specialist mathematical, logical and engineering in favor of laptops being diffused into every classroom – despite active and passive resistance of staff. By 2007, the computer science lab was a relic and largely unfunded and dismantled in favour of the ‘digital revolution’. Today, the ‘digital revolution’ is unfunded and largely forgotten along side computer science laboratories. Some schools are trying to resurrect them in the face of indifferent parent responses to the BYOD (bring your own device) — which itself is purely a result of un-funding the ‘revolution’. Dear parents, schools have a short and terrible history of bungling technological initiatives, jumping on brand-wagons and failing to recognize what is needed. Games, social media, mobiles, streaming video have all been banned and outlawed in the last decade. Labs closed and libraries unfunded and at time’s gutted. There is little to suggest schools are leading experts in technology – or media.
Today, innovation is the buzz-world. Girl-Code-Camps are letting girls (yes girls) learn to program. How revolutionary! Science and Computing are getting federal money to promote them as STEM Labs (which had previously been removed) and the funky vanguard of social-media edupunks are now part of the establishment paraphernalia which continues to ensure ‘smart kids’ are separated from the rest, maintaining the disadvantage. Nope, in the last decade, I can’t see that schools have learned very much at all – and continue to practice self-isolation from media cultures.
Children at home are not organised by age, nor are their interests isolated and indulged in fixed, regulated time periods. For parents, regulating media is a never ending negotiation with no obvious end in sight. No longer can they allow TV watching at certain times because their children are developing their media consumption skills at such a rate, that the TV is just one element of leisure and remains the one parent’s distrust and are skeptical about the most. This media development age seems un-recognised by schools. While a teacher bangs on about how cool they are using Edmodo, a 12 year old finishes Tomb Raider in 8 hours and another completes Fallout 4 without killing anyone. Children have a developing media consumer profile which schools ignore. I think, from my observations, that using Edmodo to power an equity would require a media development age of 9, maybe 12 at best – if we were to compare that to what children are learning and going in homes.
And that’s the issue for me, school failure to recognize broader social changes in which media is used as cultural vehicles for disbursing knowledge and skills and a profession which effectively set aside computer science for a decade and now believes the pop-culture use of code-hour and 3D printers is what we should all be doing.
What is school for? if has a history of bungling media choices and u-turns on technological infrastructure so far … at what point does it acknowledge it has mis-managed and mis-judged the medium and then look beyond it’s own horizons.