Mr Uglow, Director of Studies, discusses the symbiotic relationship between traditional approaches to teaching and the burgeoning opportunities for integration of technology into the modern classroom.
There is, and I suspect there always has been, a tendency to seek a dichotomy between those educators (and commentators) who advocate a traditional approach to the school experience, and those who categorise themselves as ‘progressive’. The latter caricature the former as hardliners who advocate learning by rote and excessive teacher direction, whilst the former lampoon the latter as cuddly advocates of restorative conversations and pupil-led learning. It is a false dichotomy. A good school recognises that traditional methods can sit happily and effectively alongside more modern approaches, and excellent teachers work hard to find the balance.
This is particularly true when it comes to embracing digital technology. As a trainee teacher, I spent my second placement in a London school that had invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in installing interactive white boards in every classroom, removing existing ‘manual’ boards to force teachers to embrace the new technology. It caused chaos. Any teacher will tell you their own story about the over-zealous embrace of the latest idea or gadget, as leaders seek to ‘keep up’ with developments from within the sector and beyond.
The integration of the use of Surface devices into the Senior School has been a great success. Having used a Surface Pro for the past few years, I know that there is much to commend them as a device – they are versatile, quick and light-weight. I know that using the Office 365 suite on a Microsoft product offers a much-enhanced experience over relying upon the web-based version. My colleagues and I have also come to recognise and appreciate the power of OneNote and Teams – not just in the delivery of remote lessons, but also in providing pupils with opportunities to collaborate to create a piece of work, in allowing teachers the opportunity to provide ‘live’ feedback, and in enabling the sharing of resources in a way that reduces reliance on printing. I also recognise the power of the internet as a resource – and our responsibility as educators to teach children how to use this resource effectively. Like many colleagues, I am excited by the opportunity to develop links with schools around the world, adding depth and variety to the learning experience.