Digital Newsletter Monday 18 November 2014 – The Youthful shifting sands edition

You can find info about this Saturday’s forthcoming ISANet Unconference on the website for same. Do yourself a favour and show up if you can. But book on the website so we know you are coming.

Even my upmteenth year of teaching now, it never fails to surprise me just how independent of choice some young people can be. Just when you think you have got a groove covered, up comes some information that sidelines your expectations all at once, and suggest actually you might have a heap more work to do, just when you were hoping to have got that base covered.

Facebook moving off the teenage radar

The news that Facebook are reporting that the ‘Youf of today’ are leaving them in droves for something simpler and easier to use has also surprised the stock market. After all, investors don’t spend $104 billion dollars to buy a company (2012) if they don’t think it has a really good future. Now actually it probably has, but I am going to guess that informed Parents have begun to get pretty picky about their children ‘pimping their profile’ and perhaps even worse on-line, and actually there are enough good people out there warning children of the perils of a Facebook account, both for safeguarding and for career employment opportunities when they grow up.

It’s all about the Apps

Indeed it is. The first I noticed that kids have moved platform was a year ago, when we started getting some Tweets out there getting a bit closer to the knuckle than we’d like. Instagram and Vine also started showing up on our radar; picture and video streams of meaningless bits of fun that connected their audience rather more temporarily, and then Snapchat arrived, purporting to be Fun today, gone tomorrow (meaning your messages would not stay on someone else’s phone). WhatsApp, WeChat, KakaoTalk and Friends on Minecraft to name but 4 free ways children can message and chat. Without their parents. Much more detail here from the Guardian

and not about the filters

Today’s announcement that the big search providers are going to eradicate from their search facility the ability to find Abuse images. That’s a good thing, but don’t think for a moment that the trade and behaviour of paedophiles is actually built around open searching on the web.  Like most criminal activity, it is planned, works undercover, involves children all too often caught up in their trap, with sharing happening in the deep web, where Google, Bing and Yahoo don’t go.

and all about the Education

Our children are surrounded by food, drink, drugs and indecent images. So as educators we need to work them a lot to ensure they have sufficient strength and resilience to know right from wrong, how not to overindulge, and how to stay straight. Working with technology is no different. Our work in school using technology needs to a little and often, and not overblown. Most parents keep their wallets and drink cupboards safe and managed. The trouble with technology is that being new, parents don’t feel confident about their understanding of its use, and they probably don’t know how to get better information. The ISANet assists a little in raising awareness in our community of possible solutions, such as OpenDNS so parents wifi at home is protected. On the ISA consultants list, we now have recruited Paul Hay, who is an expert in this field and runs events and evenings for parents and teachers, as well as INSET and pupil sessions too. He is visiting us at Claires Court next Monday evening to run such a session for us.

On with the Shifting sands of careers advice

Not that long ago, the government provided full funding for secondary careers advice – and this wall-to-wall, private schools included made a huge difference. They brought in EMA grants to keep pupils in Sixth Form education too. Since the crash, that’s all gone, and guess what, un-monetised by government, tells us now that Careers advice is now appalling.  The independent sector has in the main kept faith with ISCO, COA and CES London/Gordon Collins, all three organisations filling a major need we have to ensure our students are well informed, assessed and supported. Our schools don’t need to use all three, and they fit well too with local careers advisers whose careers have been cut short by cuts and do provide some very useful consultancy 

Rethinking learning : what counts as learning and what learning counts

2006 saw the publication of this volume by Judith Green and Allan Lewis, and I like the phrase, because for most of a child’s life growing up, they’re actually not at school. My twitter stream pointed me to the Bank Street papers, published in the US by this extraordinary school, postgraduate college, occasional writings by practitioners, and it seems they like me believe that all experiences are opportunities for learning. Long ago I started questioning why teachers wanted to colonise children’s time for learning, when actually left to their own devices they are often pretty good at doing just that – learning something different, exciting and often acquiring skills that they will bring back into school the next day. The occasional set I am pointing at is entitled The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out-of-School Time, and rather oddly the paper I point at here is actually from a trio of researchers in Newcastle here in the UK. I blogged on Friday about multiple competencies, and highlighted the extraordinary benefits of an orchestra day we hosted last Thursday; tonight many of the same musicians were out in force at our secondary music concert. You don’t get good at virtuoso solos, be that on classical instrument, voice or electric guitar playing Iron Maiden, without putting the time in; but what’s obvious is that the musicians value that we put on a show for them (not colonise their time) and give back in other ways through their academic work in greater measure because of it. Here’s a link to some videos of our day – great fun.

To conclude

Just one item of addictive software for you to try – Nudge, and as the website says: Nudge is a virtual-instrument widget designed for self-expressive online music making & sharing. It is fun and simple to use and you don’t need to know a single thing about producing music to make your own individual songs in minutes! Don’t blame me when the work don’t get done!

Best wishes for a good week

James Wilding



About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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