Café, Curriculum, Catalysts and Computing

T Minus 44

So back to Legoland for a second day. This time I have the important but less glamorous task of manning the base, a role that basically involves sitting in the café at the entrance and waiting for any issues that might crop up, being a point of contact, drinking coffee etc.20140709-102712-37632989.jpg In this case it’s a mocha and a chocolate orange muffin. Even so it’s a long day ahead and hopefully not too exciting.

All this time gives me a chance to do some work – for me that involves looking at the schemes of work in my new school in Mwanza. Isamilo International School is a British Curriculum School. At the moment it looks as though I will have classes in Year 9, Years 10 & 11 (IGCSE) and Years 12 & 13 (A level). The curriculum is a little different from the GCSE I am currently delivering so I need to spend a little time. A few hours here will help.

I have stated elsewhere the positive reasons that I have chosen to give up teaching in the UK and move to Tanzania. As with all decisions there are negatives although in truth these are catalysts for action rather than reasons in themselves.
As a Chemistry Graduate and former science teacher I recognise the role of a catalyst in speeding up reactions (effectively stimulating them) to occur which otherwise wouldn’t occur due to a barrier known as the Activation Energy. The catalyst lowers this barrier and since in Chemistry all reactions rely on probability (chance) more reactions occur.
I have always wanted to teach in Africa but things got in the way, the barrier has been too high. In this case the catalyst has been the recent reforms to Education in the UK. In the case of ICT there has been a systematic undermining of the subject through policy and pronouncement by an education secretary (politician) who knows little about education and has been influenced by powerful voices in Computing. Now I have nothing against Computing, it is a valid and worthwhile subject and a vital element for the future, but do is ICT – the use of computers is as important as their programming. It is more than simple spreadsheets and PowerPoint. To hear government speak ICT is dull and boring (those words have been used by the Education Secretary) – I’m sure that like all subjects this can be true at times but it is a characterisation with which I heartily disagree. The government want more students studying Computing and (in theory) ICT. However, the over promotion of one subject over another with the perceived negativity towards one has been unfortunate. The result of this is that schools are making ICT optional rather than core. In my current school both ICT and Computing are going to be options next year. Perversely although we have polled strongly in the options, less students will leave school with a qualification in either in the years to come, which saddens me.

As I said at the outset all of this has been a catalyst to action rather than a reason for leaving. It remains to be seen what the knock on effect will be internationally, though I hope the errors made in the UK will not make it overseas.

In spite of all of the above I am moving to a Mwanza for many positive reasons. Just 10 days to go 🙂

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