My advice to the Minister of Education

Dear Torbjørn Røe Isaksen,

You’re probably thinking that I’m just another hateful student, angry about the unfortunate 10% absence limit. Well, don’t get me wrong- I am, indeed, extremely disappointed, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this blogpost.

School. Education. I suppose those are terms that you cam relate with and that have a enormous meaning to you. Technology. Technology in schools. Rings a bell? Well it should at least make some sense, as those two words have much more in common that one would expect them to have.

On Friday the 28th of October, my english class joined our teacher at a conference in NHO in Oslo, Norway. Ann spoke about teaching and education with focus on technology, while others also shared their thoughts on the subject of school and learning. I have to admit that I left that building with a totally different perspective on the importance of ICT in schools.

Sandvika Videregående Skole, which is the high school I attend, has an enormous focus on using PCs in classes. There isn’t a day where I wouldn’t be thinking of how tremendous, educational and futuristic the idea is. The pros overweigh the cons, but there are undoubtedly many flaws that someone should consider fixing.

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One of the disturbing drawbacks, would be the the limited opportunity of learning proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills. While most of the time there are many advantages of word automatically correcting my texts, I would imagine that it isn’t very educative. Probably the day after that I still won’t be able to spell a certain word, what means that I actually haven’t learnt a single thing.

Another relevant flaw, would in my opinion, be the teachers lack of proper ICT competences. While some of them are remarkably skilled and working with them using laptops is a pleasure, others have quite little knowledge in that field. I am absolutely not blaming them in any way for that, since most of them are still the “pen and paper generation”. Maybe the solution to this, would simply be to offer technology training, and teaching them a way to get the most out of this type of education?

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Last but not least, we have the good old, but equally important, distraction issue. It takes literally 20 seconds to log onto e.g. Facebook, and everything is gone- both the concentration, as well as the ambition to do well in today’s class. And if this is the last lesson of the day- oh my. How can we solve this problem? I really don’t understand why no one has done anything with this yet. There is nothing easier than blocking the famous Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, and leaving the necessary sites open. One of the excuses might be that “Facebook is so easy to communicate with, e.g., when we have to send something in class”, but there are so many other ways in which we can do this.

And as for the mobile phones? Here it is the teachers responsibility to take care of that. Every single teacher knows what the risk of having a phone on the desk is, but only few of them master this problem. Out of the 7 subjects I have, only two teachers have a routine- in one class we leave the phone on a desk by the door, and in the second class we have to keep them in our bags under the desk. I have to quite openly admit that those are the subject where I leave the class with actually a decent amount of knowledge.

Therefore, dear Minister of Education, my advice to you would be to focus on those 3 topics I mentioned above. A good idea would be to offer every teacher a tutorial on the ICT basics, and how they can make laptops useful in their classes. I assume blocking the distracting sites wouldn’t also be that much work.
Road sign to  education and future

We go to school to learn. I could equally well sit at home and do nothing, but going to school is my choice and my decision. This is the place which is making me ready for the university, work life, helping to achieve what I will in order to have a safe and happy future. This is exactly the reason why it has to be well adapted to what life might have in stock for me, and the requirements I will one day face out in the big world.

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