IT has been predicted that classroom text books will soon be a thing of the past, relegated in the national memory to take their place alongside Tom Brown’s Schooldays and discipline enforced by the cane.
Younger readers, of course, will have gone through the education system without benefit of a good thrashing as corporal punishment was banned in 1987.
Mind you, Education Secretary Michael Gove is reported to be in favour of bringing it back after last year’s street riots.
I hear this suggestion has gained the enthusiastic backing of respected educationists such as Wackford Squeers of Dotheboys Hall. Mr Squeers, it is said, is not just in favour of corporal punishment he thinks capital punishment might be of even greater benefit for classroom discipline.
But let’s face it, beating up kids is in the past. The days when a teacher would fling a board duster at a disruptive lad in the back row are gone, no matter how satisfying the thwack as it hit him in the ear.
The strike rate at my school was phenomenal and we learned to duck and dive at an early age. We honed our skills in woodwork where the chap in charge preferred to hurl chisels.
Health and Safety, eat your hearts out.
Those days are gone along with teaching methods that taught the three Rs which, I have to admit, was a boast that was always suspect because the subjects they were supposed to represent were Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Three Rs? Sorry, that’s RWA.
Maybe that’s where the rot started.
Now that education is moving into the computer age we can run a spell check before coming out with any similar silly slogans.
Smart-phones, e-book readers, iPads, computer notebooks, laptops and gadgets of which I am totally ignorant are now normal accoutrements for modern schoolchildren and will, it is said, void the need for old fashioned text books. Students will access them via the internet or through software.
Before long pens and pencils will disappear and all course work from the age of five will be done on a keyboard. No-one will have to write any more and submitting work will be easy as astute pupils learn how to cut and paste from Wikipedia.
And yes, I am worried.
Education has been with us for thousands of years. Students learned from teachers, scrolls and books. Will it be improved by switching to keyboard and screen? And just how far can new technology go?
I bought my first computer 26 years ago. It was an Amstrad which was a glorified word processor. My first real computer allowed me to connect with the internet with a connection so slow you could go and make a cup of tea while waiting for websites to download. I think it was steam driven.
My first laptop cost £1,000. In comparison with today’s kit, it probably had the memory span of a goldfish.
Communication technology is evolving so fast that science fiction writers can’t keep up. Before long, youngsters will have ear nodes fitted for permanent internet connection and view the world through screens on the inside of contact lenses.
Where will education be then when it comes to taking your GCSEs? Will everyone be a winner – or a loser?
Is new technology as dangerous as Charles Dickens’ Wackford Squeers?