Category Archives: Contemporary issues

My computer has taken over my life!

The use of computers in the classroom is becoming increasingly more widespread. IWB are in most classrooms now as a teaching tool and computers, even iPads have been introduced for children to work on.

While I believe that the internet is a wonderful resource to find information and share ideas with other members of the teaching profession and beyond, I also believe that their use in the classroom is growing out of control. Children do enjoy using technology, as I have experienced while out on placement recently, however, there are so many other parts of the curriculum in which computers are resorted to for teaching.

Can we as a profession no longer use creativity to think up exciting lessons? Children in years to come are unlikely to remember a computer project, they will remember lessons which engaged and involved them. I am not saying that computers should be scrapped from classrooms completely, merely that they should be used in proportion.

From my time at primary school, I can only remember tasks which were active in involving and engaging me – in primary 7 we built a life size Anderson Shelter and decorated the cupboard to look like the inside of one. It taught us how cramped conditions were during air raids without even looking at a computer. Although this was quite a few years ago, and computers were only just beginning to be used in the classroom, I think the case would be the same for children in the classroom today.

Therefore, I ask the question, would modern teachers manage without computers in thinking up, finding resources for and conducting lessons? I believe they could, but how many would do it?

Lunchtime Lunacy

I found this article while scrolling through social media a few days ago, and was appalled by what I read. A council in South Wales are proposing to charge parents for sending their children to school with a packed lunch due to the amount that it is costing them for the clean up of these lunches. This is budget cutting to ridiculous extremes.

There are parents who simply cannot afford to pay for school lunches, hence why they give their children a packed lunch. While some may argue that that is the reason for Free School Meals (FSM) benefit, however, not all families who are entitled to FSM claim them, sometimes through ignorance to the fact that they are entitled.

When reading through some comments on the site, it is clear that I am not the only one appalled by this proposal. Many others who have read the article have also noted that it is some schools’ policy for the children to take their rubbish home, which allows parents to monitor what they eat at lunchtime. If this is the case, it makes it even harder to see the reason behind this proposed “Sandwich tax”, even if the council are saving money.

This proposal enrages me, and while it will apparently save the council £174,000 a year, it would be interesting to see where that money will end up. I do not think that it is fair to pass costs on to parents because of budget cuts.


Dance like no one is watching!

“Only 9% of respondents attended a dance show or event (7% of males and 12% of females). The highest level of attendance is among those aged 35 to 44 (13%) and the lowest is among those aged 75 plus (4%). The majority of respondents who attended dance shows/events did so once or twice a year. Dance is the fourth most common cultural activity adults participated in, with 12% of adults indicating they had taken part in dance in the previous 12 months. ”

The number of people participating in dance in Scotland today is exceptionally low, especially considering that we are a culture rich with both Highland and Scottish Country Dancing. The studies conducted in this review show that girls more than boys, and youths more than adults, participate in dancing of their own free will. This is particularly evident when looking at dance classes, including my own, which are overrun (and in our case entirely filled) with girls. It’s a pastime which boys find much less attractive than other sports such as football, and I believe the awful stigma surrounding male dancers needs to be eradicated.

In terms of in schools, the focus tends to be on the heritage of Scottish country dancing, which often fills pupils (certainly in secondary school) with dread. As a Scottish country dancer,  who has been attending class for over 10 years, I believe that schools are not teaching this wonderful art form with the credit that it deserves. Children become bored with the dances that they ‘learn’ year after year, which are then forgotten about until the next wedding they attend. Schools should be teaching these dances with enthusiasm to allow children to understand the culture they come from, just as Bollywood is respected in India.

Schools should focus on teaching children the benefits of dance, as a relaxation technique or as a social activity for example. The dedication and concentration required for dance can be used as inter-transferable skills across the curriculum, and it is my belief that dance must be taught in a more positive, inclusive and meaningful way to unlock the potential of more able children.

Get Scotland Dancing: A Literature Review Produced by Catch the Light for Get Scotland Dancing.

Available at:

Accessed on 20/01/16

Professionalism Online

What challenges/opportunities you may be faced with when marrying the personal vs the professional presence on social media?

Having a profile that is a mix of personal and professional life is dangerous, however, I believe it can have great benefits. If you have a shared account, it can allow colleagues (or pupils in an older situation i.e. university) to see another side to you that may not have been shown in your professional self. It allows them to have a rapport with you as they know other things about your personality which may not be conveyed in other professional situations. Common interests can arise and often make partnership working and collaborative projects easier.

However, there is a flip side to these potential advantages. If you have a lifestyle where you are having nights out that you wouldn’t want employers to see, then this mixture of profiles can prove to be costly in terms of your professionalism and potentially your career. A lively night of drinking can lead to consequences of its own, however, this also gives your employer or future employers an indication of your commitment to work and your professional ethics. This can be true of many careers, but particularly in the teaching profession, I believe that you must have a certain degree of maturity to accept that you may have to conduct yourself responsibly in and out of the classroom.

I’m not saying that by having a shared personal and professional profile you cannot have a social life, but I strongly believe that if you are taking this route you must have serious considerations about what you do outwith work.

How are the challenges/opportunities afforded by social media framed? How will you frame things – positive or deficit viewpoint?

The media play a large part in how social media is perceived and how it affects the role of teachers and other professionals. It won’t take long to look through a newspaper, or watch the news to find many examples of hyperbole which are simply not necessary. The recent example of a Dundee teacher who clicked on the wrong video made the front pages, when it was a simple mistake on their part and was corrected in under 10 seconds. It is these examples which will make teachers wary of using technology in classrooms, and will affect the education of the next generation – the children who are living in a technological world and many of whom will be working in this world in the future. Studies have shown that the need for software developers in particular will increase by around 30% in upcoming years.

While I look on technology in the classroom in a positive manner, and believe that it is essential to develop skills which may have already been introduced at home, I also believe that there are some negative points to consider. For example, not all households will have a computer. While the vast majority do, it may isolate children if there are internet related homework tasks which they cannot complete. However, the teacher can easily gauge this by asking the children, or parents and can change lessons and homework to suit their class. While classroom interaction should not be taken away from the school system – as it develops their social skills and abilities to make friends which may stay with them through life – there is certainly a growing place for computers and other technology in the classroom. The days of 1 computer per classroom will soon be coming to an end.

Gender bias?

In terms of major advantages or disadvantages, I cannot think where my gender has hugely impacted on me growing up. I remember in primary school where different sexes changed for PE in different rooms, however, this was only when we progressed up the school; lower primaries still all change communally.

I believe that gender affects children more as they move up to secondary school. This is where pupils, girls particularly, start to change their behaviour in order to impress others to form both friendships and relationships. I recall many girls whom I knew at primary school changing their personalities, and their appearance, simply through moving up to “big school”. Makeup featured heavily – sometimes very heavily – for many of the girls, in the hope to become “popular”. This pressure of appearance can often cause more stress for girls than it does for boys and through my years at high school, I could with certainty say that this was the case, however, this faze seems to be appealing to girls younger and younger. The older primary children, primary 6 and 7, can be seen wearing makeup and short skirts, which I believe is an unnecessary pressure being put on young girls which boys do not have to face.

Personally, looking back academically, most of the top groups in primary school did consist of mainly girls, and I can even see that now as I have worked in primary schools on placement, however, I believe this was strongly due to ability, not sex.