Technology, Education and Time

I like the BBC world service. I really like ‘The Forum’, the panel discussion show that gathers prominent figures, experts and academics to discuss a different topic each week in front of an audience. This morning I heard a great soundbite from panelist Alison Wolf, and it seems appropriate to relate her comment to the education of children in a bicultural environment.

The latest in the Forum series (at current time) is titled 21st Century Education. Download and listen to it here. It is available for the next 30 days. Wolf states (at 26:25) “This idea that children just pick up language ~ you put VAST amounts of effort, one to one effort, into teaching a child. They don’t just pick it up”.

The panel discusses the role of technology in Education. Education consultant Alexandra Draxler said on the subject of technology in schools (at 24:40) “I must admit that I have never yet seen technology be transformational in an education system”. She goes on the say “Technologies can be extremely useful as innovations in particular circumstances but in whole education systems they are problematic”.

These two points are extremely relevant to the raising and home schooling of bicultural children: effort and the use of technology.

As parents in a foreign country, who doesn’t use the internet to help bring their child in some way closer to our home culture? It is to be hoped that we do spend at least some of our time providing skills guidance (reading / writing / activities) related to the aim of them becoming at the very least more familiar with our home culture. However, as Wolf says it does take effort and time.

I have posted about various apps and websites that I find useful. These are great, creative pieces of technology that give an extra dimension to my daughter’s education. She does not even view them as work. They are part of her recreational repertoire. She likes the challenge of reading the words faster the computer reads them for her. She enjoys the animations and games about the phonic values of letters. She benefits from other accents and extra vocabulary that I wouldn’t use with her BUT…

The fun would not be possible without the effort it took to help her to learn the phonic alphabet, and the fun is short-lived. If left to play with the sites and apps (and even watch TV) by herself she loses her focus and motivation after about 10 minutes.

Conversely, I have found that 10 minutes a day of focussed (but not pressured) practice is enough to have a huge effect on my daughter’s language ability. The regularity is the key. The effort, in this sense, is in the choosing and implementation of an approach. We use Jolly Phonics to provide a framework for the 10 minute routine. With time I hope to increase this. For now, with both parents working, 10 minutes in the morning suits all our needs.

The sub-title to this blog is ‘Because you can’t leave it to anybody else!’. Neither can we leave it to anything else.

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2 responses to “Technology, Education and Time”

  1. Chris Drew says :

    There’s an expression which says “you can replace a lack of money with time, but you can never replace a lack of time with money”.

  2. teachthesprog says :

    I have seen some pretty bad examples of the latter. I would love more time at home to be able to give the 100 days of bilingualism project a go.

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