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Back to Basics

September 30th, 2016
OSH admissions process

Did you know that today is ‘Naked Teaching Day’?  Naked Teaching Day is one of those ubiquitous themed days which seem to pop up on Fridays, in particular.  Before your anxieties heighten, I might add that we’ve not signed up.

This one asks teachers to go without their textbooks, interactive whiteboards, computers and worksheets and to rely on ‘good eye contact and a great smile instead’, in order to raise awareness of teaching in the developing world.

Beyond the fact that good eye contact and a great smile can routinely accompany teaching with or without interactive whiteboards, textbooks and computers, I’m not sure that going without these items will necessarily impart an appropriate sense of empathy with teachers and pupils in the developing world.

Surely it would be better if we used the resources we are fortunate enough to have in order to come to an understanding of the sometimes desperate conditions many of these people face, before contemplating how we might, in time, come to their aid.  Our geographers regularly contemplate this matter in depth whilst the problem of global poverty plays its part not only in our Beliefs and Issues lessons but also in assemblies and the Engage discussion group.  Later this year, we’ll be able to hear a visiting US educated National Geographic prize winning ecologist contemplate how she does it and how what she does in Haiti is transforming lives – through technology.

Furthermore, the developing world might be less technologically barren than we think.  The first recipient of the $1m TED Prize in 2013, Professor Sugata Mitra is currently lobbying hard to get global support for and interest in his ‘School in the Cloud’.  From the slums of Dehli to remote Cambodian villages, Professor Mitra has developed ways in which children can self-organise and self-teach.   If you have the time, see his TED talk at https://ted.com/speakers/sugata_mitra .  His genius is to harness technology to have children teach themselves.

We also do this at OSH; it works rather well.  Mobile phones can be used to engage the peer group in live quizzes or photograph onion cells before collaboratively importing and labelling the pictures; pupils can devise assessment tasks for one another and then email them across to one another before emailing back peer assessed work; pupils can work in teams to film presentations (the most recent of which has just been on display in Brussels at the European Union STEM finals where OSH won a prize).

Half of last year’s leavers went off to study science and science related disciplines at university.  We wish them (as we wish all of our students) every success, and perhaps some will do their bit to improve the quality of life for those in the developing world as well as the developed world.

That achievement, I feel, will have rather more impact than ‘Naked Teaching Day’.