ICT as important as literacy and numeracy

A recent major review of England’s primary school curriculum says technology should be a new “centrepiece” along with English and maths. The report, released in April 2009, recommends:

“(i) Literacy, numeracy and ICT should form the new core of the primary curriculum

(ii) Schools should continue to prioritise literacy, numeracy and ICT as the foundational knowledge, skills and understanding of the primary curriculum, the content of which should be clearly defined, taught discretely, and used and applied extensively in each area of learning.”

When I first read that, in education, ICT has been accorded the same status as literacy and numeracy, my initial reaction was of surprise. But should it have been so? Probably not!!.

I completed my education in the early 1990’s when more conventional and prevalent teaching techniques were classrooms, teachers, blackboard, lectures, etc – the usual “chalk and talk” – where the teacher and the book were the only points of reference and I was trained to think using paper and pens. During my student days, the technology I normally interacted with outside school was TV, phone, music system. However, I now work in an environment where I spend most of my time in front of the computer and am constantly working with electronic gadgets or communicating with people through them. I don’t really spend any significant amount of time writing – something I was rudely reminded of when even my signature stopped matching its older counterpart and I had cheques returned to me by my bank on account of “signature mismatch”.

The 21st century learner is much more exposed to technology which is so intrinsically embedded in our lives and makes us who we are. When my wife asked our not-yet-three-years-old son to draw a picture of the train that he was going to ride, he said very matter-of-factly, “I will take pictures with my camera and show you”. The video below provides an interesting perspective on who the 21st century learner is:

It is no wonder that in this day and age, primary curriculum designers need to give particular attention to building children’s capability with information technology; and strengthening teaching and learning “from” and “with” ICT to enable children to be independent and confident users of technology. At the same time, it would make learning more relevant to their real world.

I conclude with one of the observations of the review report – “Embedding ICT throughout the primary curriculum and giving it greater prominence within the core of ‘Essentials for Learning and Life’ will provide children with more opportunities to harness the potential of technology to enhance learning.”

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