Friday, 27 February 2009

Baroness Greenfield is Wrong !

The Guardian article on Facebook, Twitter and so on ruining children's brains is quite astonishing in its lack of depth.

What Facebook and Twitter show us is a mirror of the way children's minds work at that age. This is not cause but effect. The real reasons behind children's attitudes lies in the fact that this generation of parents spends less time with their children than ever before, leaving children to "educate themselves" in terms of values and morals, and the state education sector has no more influence over children after years of being dragged in different directions at the whim of ministers looking to fatten up their CV.

Where is Baroness Greenfield's research ? This is just pure speculation !

For heaven's sake, if adults are going to behave like this its no wonder the kids haven't got a moral compass.

Baroness Greenfield should firstly stick to her known field of expertise, but if she must stray into the field of "modern technology", she should remember the old adage that a bad workman blames his tools. The tools are not to blame here, but our society clearly needs some significant effort by those purportedly in charge.

Peter Jones is a Consultant at Blue Oyster Product Development, Harrow UK.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Lifting State School Leadership Through Community Practice

In the UK in early 2009, we still have a severe shortage of experienced or qualified state school Heads.

The effects of this are easy to see, with increased truancy, poor subject achievement in core subjects, increased drop out rates, disaffected sectors of local communities and rising crime levels. The cost of education budgets is clearly not offset against the cost of unemployment and crime levels.

Some years back, before the emerging Blue Oyster Corporate Responsibility was formed, the owners suggested having "Super Heads": where one head did well, they were given a number of local under-performing schools to run as well. The government was thinking along similar lines, and came up with the "Super School Academy" concept. This however has been counter-productive, with such massive school communities that pupils feel lost, and mere numbers to be "processed".

We still need to keep school communities small, yet improve leadership skills in the state sector. Without expensive and unaffordable pay hikes, it must be possible to provide targeted training programmes for state school leaders.

The state must fund leadership programmes for those in the state sector who show promise, and co-opt the private sector into allowing higher visibility of working practices.

What the UK state sector would find in the private sector would be a focus on uniformity of appearance, to allow focus on performance, and on a community ethic, involving students, teachers and parents in cross-boundary activity to ensure children "get" what it means to be a contributing community member.

Typical examples would be Xmas and May Fairs where pupils, students and staff work together to provide an event open beyond the school walls to the local community. Such events provide valuable experience working together as a team, providing services to customers and taking receipts which typically go towards charitable causes.

Many volunteers who contribute to such "enterprises" are the local community leaders apparent we need to provide cohesion and inclusion, and forward thinking schools and heads would do well to study this area as well as curricular studies and extra-curricular activities, to understand how leadership works in action.