I spent this Saturday at the ICT Educators of NSW (ICTENSW) Conference and chatted with a lot of teachers.
At one level it was inspirational there really are some great and so, so deeply committed teachers out there; they are doing clever stuff, often with very limited resources. But on the other hand there are real, enduring problems with the curriculum and with the level of commitment to ICT in schools.
Here, with no science or consistency at all, are a smattering of takeaways from various conversations:
- Getting girls involved in coding in high school is just as hard in girls schools as in co-ed schools.
- Many teachers are being assigned to teach ICT without any knowledge or background in the area.
- Existing ICT teachers are amazingly supportive – I saw swathes of lesson plans and information being exchanged.
- One school that ‘gets it’ is allowing students to do a term working on their ICT competition entry instead of doing sport.
- Even when there is ICT teaching, there is resistance to integrating it into other subject silos. Fear of not knowing everything is a real issue.
- Being able to admit that you don’t know everything and let students lead the learning is both a practical and fulfilling way forward.
It was wonderful seeing so many passionate, professional ICT teachers in one place. I just wish I’d come away with a sense that their efforts were better backed by the curriculum they teach and the system they teach within. That they do amazing things in that context, makes their achievements even more impressive.