The subject I hated most at school was Physical Education. You know -sports. Having to strip down to shorts and a vest when there was six inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was below zero. I remember shivering with my breath clouding around me, as we waited outside for 'Sir' to emerge in his nice warm tracksuit and blow his whistle so we could all set off on our weekly 6 mile run. He would go and have a cup of tea, and we would slog up and down a muddy hillside for an hour. In the winter it was cross country running and rugby football. In the summer it was cricket. And cross country running.
The subjects I loved most at school were Art and Music. Because I was a boy (and the last time I looked I still am) I was allowed to do all 3 sciences, but only one out of music and art. For the girls, it was compulsory for them to do both Art and Music, but they were only allowed to do 2 sciences. How unfair was that? These were in the days before the National Curriculum, when each school could decide its own rules.
I actually figured it out for myself in my penultimate year. I realised that music was scheduled at the same time on a Thursday morning as PE. I talked privately to the music teacher, a liberal American guy who was very cool with the idea of me sitting in the back during his lessons. So I mitched off from PE and attended music instead. I was marked absent for 2 full years, and no-one batted an eyelid. I suspect they knew all along what I was doing, and as long as I was in school, no-one seemed to mind. I wasn't being a truant. I was just being selectively extra-curricular.
On Friday I visited South Dartmoor Community College to find out how they using ICT in their subject teaching. I had meetings with both the head of PE and the Advanced Skills Teacher for Art - my least and most favourite subjects. Both teachers, within the confines of their respective subjects, were driving an innovative and creative ICT agenda. In Art, the students were involved in a number of start-stop animation and photography projects, and amongst other things were also discovering the joys of light painting. In PE, the teachers were using a number of advanced software packages and Flip style cameras to capture and playback students' athletic performances. The strobe effect in Dartfish for example was being used to capture and display multiple images of dancing, gymnastic, bowling and jumping sports to show students how they could improve their performances. Both subject areas are benefiting greatly from these ICT uses at South Dartmoor, and they have other very interesting projects involving their Moodle VLE also. It was clear to see how all of these uses of technology were having an impact on the quality of learning.
I left the school reflecting on how far secondary education has come since I was at school. If they'd had ICT tools like that when I was at school, I would definitely have turned up to a few more PE lessons.
South Dartmoor School (Bernhard Standl)