I’ve been conscious for some time now of the ‘unreality’ of the school situation, and its lack of suitability for preparing students for the workplace. One example of this is how we generally frown upon the use of mobile phones at school, and yet this contrasts very much with the reality of the workplace. What’s the first response of the internet generation when we need information? We ‘google’ it – on our computers, yes, but more and more frequently on our phones or other mobile devices. Yet we deny students at school the opportunity to do this. Instant communication is now part of our lives, both at work and at home, and in reality, the lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred for those who use mobile technology in both areas. While we are at school teaching students how to write letters, a skill which is rapidly becoming obsolete, we ban them from using email and instant messaging, tools that they will actually need to use, both in college and at work.
Like many of my generation, I use my phone as a complete personal organiser. Its primary function is communication, of course, via calls, texts, email, social media, instant messaging and so on, but it’s also my clock, diary, calculator, encyclopedia, camera, radio, pedometer, map, dictaphone and notebook. I often joke that if it could cook the dinner and wash the clothes, my life would be perfect. If I had to be without this vital tool all day, I couldn’t function normally. The thought of it is horrifying… And I know I’m not alone in this, as many of my friends and acquaintances feel the same. Yet we expect our bright young minds, the future leaders of our country, our economy, our industry sector and so much more, to do without the one tool that will certainly play some part in their future working lives. This disturbs me. When I go to meetings or conferences, everyone has their phone out on the table, and regularly check and respond to emails, texts etc. Instant communication is the way of the world at present, so should our teenagers be excluded??
I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.
– Bill Gates