What future for education? Some food for thought

Hard to believe that the summer is over and that that we are almost half way through September and everyone is settling back into their routines for the year ahead.  This should be a very interesting year for Irish schools in relation to ICT, as the DES will shortly launch their much awaited Digital Strategy for Schools.  This document should have a major impact on the future of education at first second and level by embedding the use of ICT alongside recent reforms within the system in areas such as Literacy and Numeracy and School Self-Evaluation.

JMB Conference workshopsAlready the theme of ICT in teaching and learning is appearing on the conference landscape and this should be a pattern for the rest of the year.  Next week the Joint Managerial Body, the JMB, are hosting their annual conference in Croke Park and it is entitled, “DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY FOR TEACHING: INNOVATION > INTEGRATION > INVISIBILITY”.


The one-day conference agenda looks very interesting with presentations from practitioners, academics, policy makers and industry.  There is a wide range of topics being covered on the day.

There will be two keynote sessions at the conference.  In the morning Professor Mark Brown from DCU will open the conference and this is a great coup for the JMB.  Mark is Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning at DCU and will offer his perspective on the role of vision and values in the technology-pedagogy interface and will bring an international dimension to this important debate.  His background in New Zealand was in teacher education so he brings a wealth of experience and a different perspective to the challenge schools, all over the world, are experiencing in relation to achieving ICT integration.


In the afternoon the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills, Seán O’ Foghlú, will speak about the forthcoming DES Digital Strategy for Schools.  No doubt the DES and the others would have expected the Strategy to have been published by now, so that will make his talk most interesting.

So next Wednesday should launch a renewed focus on the issue of ICT integration and what role it might have in the FUTURE OF EDUCATION.  This is not just an Irish question but one that others are also grappling with and it is a question that does some require some thinking and consideration by all involved in education, particularly teachers.

I am currently enrolled and participating in an excellent Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), entitled the What Future for Education, where many of these issues are being considered.  This MOOC has been developed by the UCL Institute of Education in London.  The course content consists of a series of engaging interviews with faculty in the IOE and it provides teachers and others with a chance to reflect on the views of international experts on issues that are important to the field of education.  Here is a high-level overview of the content being covered in this short course.


I am currently engaged with the Week 3 material “What makes a good teacher?” which is led by Professor Alex Moore and it is really thought provoking and gets into ideas should as “a good teacher” versus “good teaching”.  Alex also shares his views on the teaching profession and how we, as teachers, are constantly growing and striving to enhance our practice.


So well worth checking out if you are thinking about what professional learning activities you might pursue during the year or how you might try to embed ICT more into your teaching this yea.   Though this course is not about ICT it might help you to reflect on your own teaching and how you might develop further during the year.

And as we embark on a new school year let’s not forget that teachers are central to the Future of Education and I am reminded of a poem that John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach, often cited about teaching entitled, They ask me why I teach?


(You can hear Wooden read the poem is you scroll half way down the page)

A poem by Glennice Harmon)
They ask me why I teach
And I reply, “Where could I find more splendid company?”
There sits a statesman,
Strong, unbiased, wise,
Another later Webster
And there a doctor
Whose quick, steady hand
Can mend a bone or stem the lifeblood’s flow.
A builder sits beside him —
Upward rise the arches of that church he builds wherein
That minister will speak the word of God,
And lead a stumbling soul to touch the Christ.
And all about
A lesser gathering
Of farmers, merchants, teachers,
Labourers, men
Who work and vote and build
And plan and pray into a great tomorrow.
And, I say,
“I may not see the church,
Or hear the word,
Or eat the food their hands will grow.”
And yet — I may.
And later I may say,
“I knew the lad, and he was strong,
Or weak, or kind, or proud
Or bold or gay.
I knew him once,
But then he was a boy.”
They ask my why I teach and I reply,
“Where could I find more splendid company?”

What more can one say!

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