This post was originally written in Swedish. Please see the machine translation made by Google, perhaps I will edit that and publish it here later on.
Archive for March, 2010
Mar 09 2010
Last fall LÄRA Stockholm, the magazine for staff members of Stockholm’s schools, featured an interview with me about the future of School. The article has now been translated into Spanish by Emilio Quintana and Juan Manuel Higuera. An effort that I truly appreciate, as well as Quintana’s personal remarks on some of my statements. And the latter seem to be in need of some clarifications.
As an introduction you may find my blog post in Swedish, about the interview and the magazine’s cover headline “Close down the School”, useful. The article in Spanish is available through the blog post Lo que va de Suecia a España. Entrevista con Richard Gatarski, which I have read thanks to a translation by Google.
I first met Emilio Quintana after a key note I did at IPON 2008 (ICT in education) in the Netherlands. Since then we have had some good interactions, including a few encounters here in Stockholm. Quintana’s concerns are really interesting, and I want to address them.
One-to-one before non-sense teacher qualifications
One-to-one, the idea of one computer to every student, is gaining momentum. More and more students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and politicians understand the importance of having the right digital tools on an indivudual basis. But Quintana seems to be concerned over me saying that computer equipment is more important the digital competence of teachers. Nothing could be more wrong. Quintana writes (translated by Google):
Probably a slight misunderstanding here. During the interview I argued that a computer to every student (and teacher) is more important than “qualified teachers” (swedish: behöriga lärare). In Sweden there is a big thing around “qualified teachers”, in my view a topic driven by the two largest teacher unions. Supported by vote-hungry politicians. “Qualified” is supposed to be inherent with a university degree from a teachers education program. I consider such qualification as being non-sense, given the massive critique directed to those programs. Where, for example, skills in IT-related competencies is not guaranteed by those degrees. Consequently, I feel it is more important to equip schools with contemporary tools, than “qualified teachers”.
Schools must play the branding game
This concern is trickier, as I am not sure of how much Quintana knows about what I mean around branding in a school related context. And I really don’t know much about Quintana’s thinking on branding. He writes (again translated by Google):
Unfortunately I do not know much about the references Quintana gives. I only skimmed through them before writing this. But I am really stressed in not having developed, and shared, what I mean by branding in an educational context. Those ideas go far beyond tbe brand image of School (as an institution) and that of a school brand (such as Instituto Cervantes).
What I have been trying to say the last 10 years is, with Gerver’s words, that schools must play the branding game. And in order to play that game well, one has to understand its players, rules and tools. For example, the linking value of brands. Consider the brand value of “mathematics”. Do kids generally feel that math is cool and help them become a better human being? Do they feel that being good in math make them a good person to have relations with? Or is it perhaps the other way around?
Look into your nearest shopping mall. Do you see the brands?
Look into your nearest school. Where are the brands?
Where does the attention, interest, desire (and money) go?