One headline in the feed from the British newspaper The Guardian really caught my eye today: “Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up“.
That certainly sounds like an intriguing change, although the details are a little weird.
Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain “fluency” in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.
First of all, I wouldn’t bet on Twitter being around when elementary kids graduate, at least not in the form it is when they write the specifics of the curriculum.
But to combine this with skills in handwriting and using a spellchecker…?
I would love it if our overly-large school district would follow the British lead and at least acknowledge the instructional possibilities of these new communications tools.
However, this particular change to the curriculum seems, on the surface, to be yet another attempt to teach tools instead of concepts.
It was the same way a decade or so back when we taught word processing classes (I taught my share of AppleWorks!) instead of focusing on how to improve the writing process using a word processor.
We should be helping our kids understand how to write for the web, to present their ideas, to craft their online image, regardless of the tools.
The emphasis needs to be on the process, not the processor.