Schools are still important

Jack Jeffries is a Year 10 student at Parramatta Marist High.  I invited him to write a guest blog as we don’t hear student voice enough when it comes to mapping the future of education.  His thoughts follow…

Six months ago I spoke at the International Conference for Teaching and Learning with Technology in Singapore (ICTLT). It was a great honour to attend as a Year 10 student of Parramatta Marist High.

I’ve been lucky over the past four years to experience innovative schooling through project-based learning. Aside from the emphasis on teamwork, I’ve been able to use technology to make connections via the web. PBL has been incredible for me – I can communicate with anyone, research anything and learn more effectively.

Learning this way has helped me form strong views on technology in education and it was this that led to the opportunity to participate in a student panel discussion in Singapore.

Despite speaking in front of more than 1000 people (which I is pretty daunting for most people), the discussion was exciting and the responses were varied, thoughtful and interesting. Singapore, being number one in education, meant that the use of technology and other aspects that make up the future of education where already well in play, and the students that joined my peers and I at the panel knew their stuff. The questions varied, from the pros of technological learning, in its usefulness and its role in communication, to the negatives, such as cyber bullying. Overall, even in considering the differences of everyone’s responses, a general consensus was reached – technology is opening up exciting opportunities for learning.

Where do I see education with all the tools available to us as learners? Over the past few years, I have seen the great potential in these tools and they have to be harnessed to give students an incredibly versatile, effective and worthwhile education. It’s not that we will be prepared for the future but it invites students to continue to learn and experience at an incredible rate inside school, outside school and continuing after school.

The potential of learning is open to anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy allows thousands upon thousands of kids to learn in an interesting, simple and engaging way – for free. How can schools compete? In all honesty, you can take the internet in general; it allows for instant access to any content in the world, with everything from video tutorials to diagrams to forums on every topic under the sun. Students literally have the world at their fingertips – our keyboards can take us anywhere. When did schools turn from a key to the world to a barricade from it?

I believe schools are still important and for good reason. They are the connection between our tools, the bridge looking out upon the expanse of our education. Schools are needed – they just have to change. Maybe it’s time for open learning, where students could harness the power of technology to communicate, discover and develop their understanding and their awe of the world at equal rates and harness the power of school to discuss and consult with peers and teachers.

As I said at the conference in Singapore, this is the time to harness technology so we can utilise the time spent at school for the most efficient and effective as well as exciting education possible.

 


One thought on “Schools are still important

  1. What a thoughtful post, Jack. I have watched the development of PBL at Parramatta Marist over the past 5 or 6 years and each time I visit I am always inspired by the confidence of the students and how they can clearly reflect on, and articulate their views about their own learning. I agree technology opens up many exciting opportunities. I have a daughter in Year 8 and I know how engaged she is in her own pursuits at home via the Internet and the wealth of information she has access to, how it deepens her knowledge and also how she contributes to the learning of others outside of the school day. I agree that there needs to be more fluidity between school/home, and teachers and parents are critical to this process.

    Congratulations on your presentation in Singapore.

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