UK Teachers Feeling Obsolete

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Almost three quarters of teachers responding in a poll admitted feeling left behind by new technology. In the case of some tutors, however, the problem was not that they couldn’t understand it or wield it.

Over 50% of the teachers agreed that interactive technology makes for a richer teaching/learning experience, and 57% touted engagement with students as the primary perk of interactive technology in the classroom. 81.5% reported using interactive whiteboards and 63.9% said they use laptops. Around half said they brought a tablet to the classroom on a regular basis.

Poor training and outdated equipment

But despite having access to high-tech themselves, and despite their growing numbers, 74.5% of these digital tutors said their students were more tech-savvy than they were.

Of course, teachers don’t use technology for entertainment quite as much as students do, chalking up at least one culprit – practice. Reflexes are known to be slower as we get older, making it frustrating to operate technology designed for rapid coordination. Take for instance, the double click. Ten years ago, the percentage of grand-folk able to do it was probably in the single digits. But teachers blame it on something else: poor training and old equipment.

In a different poll, a third of schools admitted in September that they had not invested any money in training teachers to deliver the new computing curriculum. Surveyed around the same time, half of students thought their teachers needed more computer training.

Money ‘well’ spent

The UK government reportedly pledged £3.5 million last year on new curriculum training, but the money is not being filtered down properly so that every classroom can benefit from a tech-savvy instructor.

Inconsistencies were uncovered from school to school regarding the number of teachers receiving training. Some gave six teachers computer lessons, others trained three or four, and as many as 34% of the schools admitted to training only one or two teachers. A full 10% reported training no teachers at all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the US is planning to make coding a mandatory subject in schools. The latest such promise comes from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who seeks to make it a graduation rule by 2018. The computer science classes will count toward a credit for a key subject, such as foreign languages, or math.

Some have even argued that technology might one day make human teachers obsolete. To that, we say “anything’s possible.” But until then, we should at least give teachers a sporting chance to redeem themselves.

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