Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pens, Pencils, Refill, Book bag... and an iPad?

Unless you have a five-year old about to start school, the yearly shop for school stationery usually happen post-Christmas, after we've all spent our money on presents. (Unfortunately for our household, it also coincides with TWO birthdays*) I was a bit shocked to find that this year Sam's list cost me almost $100. Part of this list cost included "shared" items for the class, such as whiteboard markers and Jovi's (crayons, for the uninitiated), but fortunately, unlike the Year 9's of Orewa College next year, I won't have to buy an iPad.

Or if you bother to read the rest of the article (unlike the radio networks who can only read the first line of news items), it also states a laptop, net book or tablet PC will do. It appears the main issue parents have, is with the affordability of the technology. I'm not going to argue that a computer is non-essential equipment for school. It should be obvious enough that we're living in an electronic age, and children are being exposed to digital devices at an earlier age than ever (I say this as I wipe the toddlers fingerprints off my computer screen, and while the 6 year old is off playing Peggle on the xbox).

 The first year of high school is hideously expensive as it is, when the cost of a new uniform alone can be upwards of $300 not to mention fees (or if you like your compulsory "donation") which, usually run in the hundreds. And this is if you go to a "free" state school. This is not helped by Orewa College's status as a decile 8 school. A high rating means that they are entitled to less funding. It's an unfortunate catch-22.

It appears that the main problem, though, was a lack of communication between school and home. With consultation, the school could have lessened the resulting parental outrage, and perhaps they would have then offered their support and input to find a way to fill the funding gap.

*One of them being mine


  1. Damn nang it! You beat me to the post. No biggy.

    I've been following this story all day. It's an interesting case of some really dumb decisions.

    The newsletter (http://orewa.school.nz/dms/images/news_articles/Letter_to_Year_8_parents_24_June.pdf) uses the word "require" an awful lot.

    So given that we're in a digital age where making use of online resources can (dependant on some other factors such as how this is handled socially, how the teachers view it and engage with it etc.) greatly improve child engagement in their learning, how could this have been done better?

    I know this is a fairly high decile school but making efforts to make this affordable would have mitigated a lot of the backlash.

    Consultation with the parents about the programme... How much input did the parents get on this decision?

    The recommendation of an ipad 2 is just terrible. Why? Because ipads, and other tablet devices, aren't creation devices. They're mainly used for the consumption of media - not the creation. So instead of "look at the great work Jimmy is doing!", it's more a case of "look at all the content Jimmy can look at!". So the device itself isn't ideal and, unfortunately, suffers from Apple's overpricing.

    The school can't actually make this "compulsory". They can not deny your child access to education. In other words, no one can force you to pay school fees nor can they force you to make your child wear a school uniform nor can they demand your child have a device...

    Interesting how the media framed this whole scenario...

    I was reading some rather interesting paranoia. Things like, computers don't help with education as kids will just play games. I put this down to these people being those I.T. people I dislike - those who don't believe they're dealing with intelligent beings and instead make every effort to lock things down. To those I.T. people out there who may suspect I may be talking about you - stop trying to pre-empt everything and give people the opportunity to do the right thing - let them know what the right thing is and you may be pleasantly surprised.

    In other words, the fact that kids may play some games is no reason to stop kids from learning in a more engaging way...

  2. Scroll down to the image attached to the article


    Sound familiar?