Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Fahrenheit 451? Welcome to my year 10 English class.

Ray Bradbury's imagined future is happening now, in 2012, in my school, and more especially in my Year 10 classroom. Last week, Guy Montag and his crew of firemen would have had to burn just four paperback copies of Bradbury's book. Irony.

Recently, every Victorian student in years 9 and 10 was issued with a small notebook computer. They all had their computers in class that morning, but do you think they could manage to bring the set text, Fahrenheit 451? Why did I even expect they would?

I had repeatedly reminded them to bring the text, all to no avail. Just about every kid in the class has got a mobile phone. Many of them have new iPhones. Most have the white headphones, plugged into at least one ear under a wadge of hair, or swinging around their necks. But many of them still haven't acquired, so they say, this book-listed text.

If I want to chat to them about The Shire, or Masterchef or their mums reading about sex in Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm on. But trying to get them to engage with something that uses figurative language - huh? - or complex ideas? Apologies to the writer of Fifty Shades if he/she uses figurative language. Don't know. Haven't read it. I'm currently getting my gratuitous sex courtesy of Boardwalk Empire. (BTW, the teacher's aide was keeping quite a poker face as she read Fifty Shades during Year 8 sustained silent reading recently.)

Re those free issue computers: Good that I'm getting lots of typed essays handed in - takes me twice as long to assess on line so I'm not going there again. Bad that plagiarism's on the increase. You have to be really limited to hand in something brilliant and not think the teacher is going to do a Google search. Tip to sad plagiarist students: at least put it into your own words. You never know, you might learn something.

And another thing. Students who've never done any work before are now eagerly flipping open their computers and concentrating furiously and quietly while I try to teach them the finer points of using language to persuade. Must be making tons of notes; all those intense, furrowed brows. As if. They're checking their uploaded weekend photos or browsing pictures of 'muscle cars' on line. And the rest.

So, taxpayers' hard-earned money at work. Well, at least in my class.

Yes, I know, I know. Computers are here to stay and I certainly love my gadgets and social media. These kids were born into this world and I'm an immigrant.

The task is for me to get the kids to use their computers to do some complex learning. I'm working on it.

Suggestions gratefully received.


Stella said...

Ha! We've had laptops for TWO years now! Welcome to the brave new world, Fraudy!

I bet you any money the powers that be think technology is 'all that' like they do at our school.

Become a CRT, you'll care much less about doing battle with them. (Oh the cynicism.)

Stella xx

Polite said...

I am experiencing the same thing. We have tablets for the students and I am just on the brink of how-the-hell am I supposed to bridge those old school study skills and reading skills with their tablets in every lesson? As of now, it's useless... I can very well feel you.

Dedenuff said...

Is there anyway of loading the reading text onto the computer?? Like Kindle etc? Then the little charmers wouldn't have an excuse.
As for the rest, Taminmin has its own server that the kids link to, and from what I understand, it restricts what sites you can access.At least that is what admin told me when I paid for Elis notebook. Thing is, if it picks up a virus or anything dodgy, it would only come from the school server as we don't let her use the internet on it at home.

Fraudster said...

Hi Dedenuff. Pity they haven't got tablets like at Taminmin. I encourage my Year 8s to use Kindles,tablets and phones during wide reading but we haven't got to the stage where we get kids to read whole novels on line. But it's certainly worth thinking about for the future.

Hi Polite. You might be interested in the blog I've just written about an excellent ICT workshop I attended. I'm hoping it will help me.

Fraudster said...

And Stella, I take my hat off to you. I couldn't survive as a CRT. The abuse!