Thursday, 7 February 2013

All coming together. Inclusiveness opportunity

All coming together. Inclusiveness opportunity

In many posts I have given anecdotal descriptions of events, interactions that reflect the sorts of experiences which lecturers, teachers, ‘practitioners’  ‘educators’ get.

Students who are rational, collaboratve, ambitious becoming marginalised, even abused because they do not appear to fit into the ‘orthodox’. The ‘could do better syndrome’.

They could not access the curriculum at a level which gave them satisfaction, fulfilment, or were not allowed to because in their different ways they did not fit in.

The move to the use of whiteboards and then ‘smartboards’, have actually increased the marginalisation of many people with difficulties in reading and writing. 

Our experience suggests that there are many students who find looking at a default computer screen far more difficult than looking at a white board which in turn they found more difficult than looking at a blackboard. But there is an apparent paradox here. I say all this but the average academic performance here in the   UK appears to have been rising! But many employers seem to be saying the opposite suggesting that there may be a bit of ‘newspeak’ around.
Perhaps looking is not the right word. It is about reading rather than looking which is more difficult for many . 

Looking at a computer, using graphics appears to be making learning more accessible to more people. But there has been a huge increase in the amount of reading associated with learning. People want to read more, to ‘google’ for explanation, more detail inspired by the graphics.  

There are huge benefits from the use of computers in learning. This whole blog concerns the potential benefits but it also chronicles losses by some of us and the opportunity to really use the technology to make text more accessible, to enable a huge swathe of our people to achieve more and feel more included rather than marginalised/excluded...

In education we tend to see the advantages in using computers as helping the teaching. Increasing /improving the ‘edutainment’   and management components. But there remains a reading 'accessibility' down side for many people which exceeds the positives. BUT that the ability to control the parameters of the text, making it accessible is available.

 We need to grab and develop this opportunity. The educators need to stop assuming that we are still working with printed text, which was fixed, take it or leave it. They must stop making the assumption that someone who can read fast, finds the small fonts on a white background easy are the clever ones, the ones who could contribute, would show what a good ‘teacher’ they were.
 The educators need ensure accessibility to text by reasonable adjustment from the earliest age possible.

Perhaps I am a romantic, but I can honestly say that throughout my life I have never met pupils, students, colleagues or friends who did not want to be able to make more sense of this planet, their lives.

 I have met many frustrated individuals who after years of struggle appear to have given up. Their teachers, the society, keep devaluing them trying to put them in their place. Often it seems to me, when I am not feeling charitable, because it made the people pushing them down feel better to have people not as good as them. Or society tends to be negative towards anyone who seems to ‘hold back’ the seemingly ‘virtuous’. We need scapegoats when the virtuous are not making as much progress as we hope for or expect.

I have met many people who despite being marginalised, push themselves forward, often with tremendous support from those around them, they know that they are ‘as good as’ ( a favourite phrase of mine) despite being told so often that they are not.

I have met and worked with so many people who I admire for their talents despite lack of formal academic success, whether it is the genius car mechanic, the bricklayer, the plasterer, the carer or the street cleaner. When you talk or work with them you know you are no different; any apparent difference is just a veneer. The differences develop as in school they are taught to know their place, and that place is more often than not a function of how fast and for how long they could read.

The computer can be the liberator. It can offer us choice, the opportunity to bespoke our interaction with our planet. It has transformed the way we can communicate with each other, who we communicate with, when and what about. The world wide access to music, film, and ideas is hard to stop, to control, but the real thing that enables ideas to pass in a structured, organised way between us, is through text. With text we can craft our thoughts, develop, demolish our mental constructs our hypotheses and our theories. Test out our ideas; develop our theories, our models. True freedom depends on that access to text. That text has to be as inclusive as possible.

I think that what I have written above is clumsy. I have tried to get across my thoughts. It is a complex area to explain linearly. I think it really needs a mind map!

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