Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
Image of Hilary Wilce

The Quandary - 11 Jun 2009

Why should learning about computers and technology be put at the heart of the primary school curriculum?

Hillary's Advice

This parent spends all her time trying to get her children off the computer and into the fresh air, and is appalled to read that ICT (information and communication skills) is at the heart of the proposed new primary school curriculum, due to come in by 2011.

I sympathise, but can also see why todayís children need to be taught how to manage digital media. Everyone in their world will need to know how to manipulate text, video, music and pictures, and how to evaluate information, and use it effectively.

My fear is that this teaching will be done badly, and that precious school time will be wasted on laboriously teaching pupils things they already know. Currently only about a quarter of primary schools teach ICT well. Many teachers havenít a clue how to use ICT in the classroom, and the equipment available to schools is still inadequate. Poor ICT teaching leaves pupils languishing mindlessly in front of screens producing pointless, ill-written materials.

Good ICT teaching, on the other hand, is exciting and genuinely enhances learning. Writing blogs, creating video diaries and podcasts, and producing spreadsheets and presentations, can all improve numeracy and literacy, and, when used with skill and imagination, really light children up about learning. Technology can also draw parents into school life, through shared blogs and videos of school events.

As always in school, itís all about the teachers. Great ones turn technology into a great tool for learning. Poor ones just turn their pupils off.