The Atkins diet

Zenna Atkins is a particularly influential figure in the world of British education, yet her personal learning journey has been chequered. It was refreshing then to see her give the opening keynote at this year's Handheld Learning conference, in London.

Atkins is actually more of a 'mum' than she is the chair of OfSTED. At least this is how she portrays herself, and she laces her narrative with school from a parent's perspective, rather than sticking to the standard mantra that emanates from many government appointees. She has also been hailed by the press as 'a failed student who is now in charge of inspecting schools'. Zenna Atkins focused on the consumer power that has emerged around Web 2.0 services. It is both disconcerting and liberating she said, that patients often know more about their condition than their GPs, due to trawling around on Google. It will only be a short time, she warned, before a similar situation arises in schools. Teachers are often lagging behind when it comes to good use of learning technologies, but worse, they can no longer aford to represent themselves as the sole arbiters of knowledge.

Atkins cited an incident where her son streamed a live video of his classroom to her at home using his mobile phone. She was appalled to see a small riot raging unchecked in the classroom, whilst the teacher sat doing nothing, with his feet up on the desk. Incensed she phoned the school and alerted them to the impending disaster, and a senior member of staff was summoned. The lookout posted at the door told the teacher and when the senior staff member entered, all was calm and business-like. The school denied anything untoward had happened, and took disciplinary action against her son. Atkins was able to show the senior staff member evidence that her son was 'telling the truth', but her point is challenging... The power is now in the hands of the parents, regardless of whether schools ban mobile devices or not. The entire educational system is being challenged when parents are able to eavesdrop into classrooms using the technology that is currently available. What will happen when this becomes common practice? Good question.

Read also an excellent summary of the rest of Zenna Atkins' speech (by Terry Freedman).


Dan said…
"The entire educational system is being challenged when parents are able to eavesdrop into classrooms using the technology that is currently available".. what a fantasic notion! Surely this is what we need: more parental involvement in schools. Let's face it, half the problem in schools exist because sone parents haven't got a clue what's going on in schools and therefore cannot/will not/do not support their children.

We need a change in the education system! I wonder how representive of schools the situation described is. Of this i'm not sure - but I am positive it is not an isolated scenario.

Let's make schools transparent to all and open up education.
Terry said…
Thx for mentioning my article, Steve. Enjoyed reading yours too, and about to tweet it.

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