Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Uncertain Change





The Paps are being awfully shy, ever since I decided to post daily pictures of them on the blog they have been in hiding. Today they continue to be a complete tease, lifting the heavy layers of mist and cloud covering them, ever so slightly to reveal their lower climbs, before covering up again completely.

We have friends home from New Zealand. They have family over with them who have never visited the islands before. They have yet to see the Paps in their full glory, the happy farmer of course, a wry grin on his face, explained how they recently decided to concrete the whole of Jura and the Paps are in fact no more. Maybe that is why they have decided to revel themselves ever so slightly today!

Our son arrived home from school really excited, our daughter completely fed up. The reason, well our high school is the first school in Europe where every child is being issued with a tablet PC, a mini laptop computer. Jotters, pens and worksheets are going to be a thing of the past.

Son came home with his shiny new tablet yesterday; daughter has got to wait another week until hers is issued, so she was really not a happy bunny. I have really mixed feelings about the whole process, but then that is also my approach to change. I can’t help feeling that my children are going to be the guinea pigs in this whole computer age. It seems to somewhat contradict our natural surroundings, I can’t help wondering why the computer giants, Dell and Microsoft have chosen a small school on a remote Scottish island to begin this computer revolution.

I have concerns about what skills will be lost when computers don’t simply enhance class work, but actually take over. Will it be easy to revise and learn notes by reading from a computer screen instead of going through hand written notes and work sheets? Will a part of each individual’s identity be lost to some extent when everything is computer processed and not hand written? It is interesting that we live in an age when we are trying to desperately preserve, languages such as Gaelic and Welsh, to value and appreciate accents and dialogues, which at one point were actively banished in the belief that if we all spoke the same language, with the same accent and dialect, it would help us to get on better in the world. I can’t help but draw some comparisons to our use of language in the written sense also; will it be good for children to rely on computer keyboards so dependently when it comes to expressing themselves in the written form? Will the whole process prove a technological nightmare? What happens if children’s work is not backed up properly, they can only link to the internet when at school and the tablets have no DVD drives, so what happens when a huge amount of research or an all important essay is lost with the touch of a button?

The children are really excited, they are already far more computer literate than me. We live in an ever changing world. I should be glad that my children are getting this fantastic opportunity, that they are receiving such fantastic equipment for nothing, I just can’t help wishing it had been tried and tested elsewhere first, that’s all, and I do hope they do not lose the all important skills of expressing themselves with pen and paper…back to the cave drawings then.

Until next time…

19 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It is a very different world today. Technology takes over our lives as our children move with the times and we try to keep up. The school sound awfully sophisticated, I do hope it all works out and the children don't get bored with their new toy.

Best wishes, Crystal xx

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

I used to work in Cartographic publisihgn , cartographers today are triande ot computer plot, all except teh third world ones who go to teh ordnance survey n Southampton Uk to learn to do it teh old was as hteir countries cannot afford the expensive equpmenet. Great so come the revolution when all teh power dies the skills die too...

Faith said...

It must seem really strange. I can understand you not feeling totally happy about it; I don't think I would be either.

Faith said...

It must seem really strange. I can understand you not feeling totally happy about it; I don't think I would be either.

Pondside said...

I do understand!
The Great Dane works in the IT field and we've always had state-of-the-art stuff - the kids have always been ahead of everyone with the newest technology. I, on the other hand, have come along slowly.
When our son was in school I told him that soon everyone would have a computer and everyone would be computer literate, but that the real power would lie with the people who are truly literate - can read and can write - put sentences together and put pen to paper.
I actually heard my son say "Mum, you were right" as his essays and university papers were consistently marked with A+ and received very good comments. I'd hate to think that computers might rob our children of the need to spell, or to think about the order and impact of the words that they use.
I'll be interested to hear how this experiment goes.

Hannah Velten said...

I have to admit I wouldn't be happy with this arrangement - are they going to be entirely reliant on these 'tablets'? What about spelling (constantly relying on spellchecker?) and hand writing and numeracy (presumably all maths will be done on spreadsheets?). I guess that your children will be lucky as you are obviously concerned and will keep up these skills at home - but what about children whose parents are less involved with their children's education...hum, let us know how it pans out, please....
Those Paps are just teasing us! Mootia x

Suffolkmum said...

I think you raise some really interesting questions Posie. It does seem slightly at odds with their environment, as you say. I would have the same feelings as you - but then that's me with change too - hope it all goes well though, and your daughter gets her's soon!

laurie said...

i'm with you. mixed feelings on technology. there are things you learn better the old-fashioned way.

but dispensing free mini-laptops....kind of cool, too.

maybe a mix of the two.

Fennie said...

There's a lot of good sound common sense here, Posie. Yes, computer's can't do everything and still if I have anything serious to write I write it first with a pencil, on paper. You can't explore, doodle, skim, rewrite with a computer in quite the same way.

Re the Paps - I don't think I've ever seen those either, certainly not at close hand.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

hellooooo I have tagged you ...12 sounds/smells that would reach you wherever you may be

Now I had better read the blogs!!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Technology rules OK....but when they get to the exam room its still pens and paper!!! As youngest son found to his horror this year. He has used a personal lap top since junior school so it did come as a bit of a shock!!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Compter's have helped Robot Boy and Wildchild with their homework and their studies at Uni - more so the studies at Uni. But I too don't want them to lose the art of expression with paper and pencil . . . Robot Boy is probably a lost cause, but Wildchild is an artist.

Guess if we work with technology and take the good from it, but also keep the good of the 'old ways' as well.

@themill said...

I think we've probably got to accept a bit of everything. It's when it all goes too far one way that the damage is done. Personally, I still can't think on a keyboard - I have to write it down on paper first.

annakarenin said...

I guess they chose a small school because it is cheaper to supply the software. I lived in one of the village that trailed digital T.V and believe it was chosen for that reason. It sounds incredible and can see why you have reservations but also it will be great to cut down on the amount of paper we use due to excessive use of work sheets.

Loved the blog about painting the cottages, I love those days that turn into a sort of informal party, I would have been forced to join the farmer and quit the painting I think.

ChrisH said...

That's a really interesting post and raises valid points about what we lose as well as gain with technological advances. Let us know how your children get on.

The photos are lovely - whether or not the Paps are being shy. Also wanted to say I also love Lagavulin - is that ok? (I picked Talisker in my scents and sounds because of its association with a memorable holiday we had on Skye and a bright, sunny visit to Talisker bay).

IrishEyes said...

Glorious photo's.

Have to agree with you - computers all very well, but there is also place for the old pens and paper scheme too. I'm old enough to remember having to use a dip pen and ink and to have to write with a light stroke upwards and heavy stroke down wards, the result was not only a beautiful picture, when we got it right, but we learned concentration, and how to do the joy properly. On top of that, the subject ran into our subconscious and stayed there until needed.

Computers at school; for a class, not for the whole day.

elizabethm said...

I absolutely understand your mixed feeings and would feel just the same. so hard to hang on to the best of everything!

Pipany said...

Lovely to catch up again Posie. I am with you on the change front - I know it is inevitable but I find it so unsettling. It is good for the children to become comp literate but not at the expense of the use of pen and paper as writing unlocks a different creative part of the brain. A mix of both is necessary it seems to me xx

a kelly said...

No doubt there will be some children who will find the technology challenging...just as some children found it hard to put pencil to paper. My daughter was one of those. She would dictate her work to me to avoid the hours of staring at a blank page. She is a whiz kid on the computer though. Somehow tapping on the keyboard was totally different.
Looking forward to future posts about how it's going for the students.

love your blog,
alexsandra