ICT & Computing in Education

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What’s the story?

How I hate the word “narrative”! At least, I detest the way it has been usurped by smart-suited political advisers who say things like “We need a new narrative”.

Story Hour, by San José Library http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/But sometimes, like now, I get what they are talking about, though I prefer to use the word “story”. And my question is: what is the story, what is the whole experience, of ICT in your school?

Two things have prompted this thought. First, I was at a meeting recently in which someone said that an Ofsted inspector told a teacher that his lesson couldn’t be graded as “Outstanding” because one of his students walked in late. That, apparently, reflected badly on the student’s attitude, and therefore the teacher’s ability.

I should have thought that it could just as well have reflected on the train company’s ability to keep to time, or whether a road accident had held the bus up. It could have reflected the student’s attitude to school in general, or whether he had felt unwell that morning.

It could have reflected the student’s attitude towards ICT, but without knowing a whole load of other details, how could anyone, let alone a visitor, make a judgement?

Second, I was thinking about a passage in a book I’ve been reading, called “The story is true: the art and meaning of telling stories”, by Bruce Jackson. The passage reads:

When does the experience of a story, told or read or heard or seen, begin and end? Does the experience of a film start with fade-in and end with fade-out? What about the transition from ordinary to narrative space involved in seeing a film in a theater? You move from street to outer lobby, acquire a ticket, move to the inner lobby. There the light is not like the light of an office or a department store or a café or the daytime or nighttime street.

And so it continues, basically making the point that the story experienced by watching the film is not confined to the film alone, but includes all of those extra bits needed for the film to be seen at all. In other words, the story of the film includes the process of getting to the point where you can watch it, and obviously includes a sort of reverse process once the film is finished.

I heard of a school where entering the ICT suite was like entering a space capsule. Before the children even entered the room they were experiencing something exciting and different.

So, I ask again: what’s the story for the students as far as ICT is concerned at your school? Not just the facilities, but how they get to use them, how they and others think about them? The whole experience, in other words.

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(c) Terry Freedman