You Say Technology, I Say Technical: Tricky Tech Tactics

 In Educational Leadership

Ten years ago, Australian schools were promised an education revolution. And there is no dispute: Australia got exactly what it voted for.

  1. A $2.4 billion Digital Education Revolution (DER). The plan was to provide one computer for every student in Years 9-12, including exclusive Microsoft software.
  2. A high speed National Broadband Network (NBN) to drive the computers. The cost estimate was a mere $29.5 billion.

It was to take 7 years to achieve all of this. NSW schools would be first, and then every other State and Territory would follow them, with state-of-the-art technology and network capabilities.

Today, we continue to shoulder the cost of this education revolution. Parents must purchase computers for their children of compulsory school age, and the burden for taxpayers – the estimated final cost of the NBN – has blown out from the original $29.5 billion to $51 billion.

But there’s more. The rollout of the DER included the introduction of the Australian Curriculum. It was approved by the Federal government and by every State and Territory, all of whom were from the same political party.

And here’s the catch. The Australian Curriculum recommends just 30 minutes, and no more than 1 hour per week, to be spent on Technologies.

So was technology the real goal, or just an incubator for the hatching of a desired national philosophy?

Social-reconstructionist theory holds that society can be reconstructed through the complete control of education. The most successful example of this is Russian communism. The ultimate aim is a single worldwide democracy.

Curriculum would no longer focus on fundamental knowledge or history, but on students constructing their own understandings of the world, by taking social action – strike action, for example– on problems such as violence, starvation, environment and inequality. It requires bringing the world into the classroom. There’s no better way to achieve this than via the personal computer.

When you hear the phrase, ‘We’re investing in Tech Schools’, do you think of tomorrow’s plumbers and sparkies? Wrong. ‘Tech’ means ‘technology’, not technical. The Victorian Labor Government is testament to this. The promise of Tech schools has been delivered, at a spend of $116 million for 10 Technology schools – not for tomorrow’s tradespeople, but for state-of-the-art technology centres.

Here’s the lesson. Be very clear on the way the English language is being used. At $52 billion, and counting, that’s one heck of an expensive lesson.


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