Sunday 24 September 2017

Diary of a schoolteacher: The joy of computer learning? I can relax to a bit of Black Sabbath...

E Grade

I recently discovered using technology in class. It has come to my rescue every Thursday afternoon when their heads are dropping, tears running down their saggy bored eyes and nobody has the wherewithal to even manage a grunt -- that's when I lead my moribund band off to the computer room.

Obviously, not all the computers there work, and unless you're ready to tolerate a whole ream of paper spewing out the same picture of The Script from the printer for the next half-hour, it's best that you disconnect it altogether.

Not all my pupils have computers at home, so first I have to show a few how to use one. Once that's done, I give them the password and the name of a good fun educational website. I usually set them up with the EU's site and direct them to their games.

It's funny when you think of it, but some multilingual and very well connected EU bureaucrat is paid to put together computer games.

The ones where you have to match euro coins are a bit passé by now, but in my opinion the best game challenges the player to fly blind in any direction towards a named EU capital city.

It's actually quite hard to find your way from Prague to Lisbon just using a compass on the screen.

Stick them in front of the computers -- never mind that there's never enough of the damn things, make them share -- and I can guarantee a class full of contented kids, even though they are learning.

When you have all the freedom, the colour and endless possibilities to help you learn from a machine, then why should a celebrated educator like me burn himself out?

No, much better to recline in my chair at the top of the room, earphones on, happily listening to Black Sabbath. I just might get away with a cappuccino and a couple of Leibnitz biscuits (failing that, a packet of Tayto).

I survey my team of learners and as 'Paranoid' rips along inside my brain, I feel satisfied that they are for once taking my subject seriously.

Every now and then, I get up and stroll around, checking that they are looking at the correct website or else directing them to another, but thanks to the web-filtering system that the school installed, the biggest threat -- online porn -- is averted, though it doesn't stop young Dan Keaveney from loudly recommending 'This.com' or 'That.com'.

No doubt all packed with the filthy stuff that intelligent boys like him love. "Dan!" I shout. "Shut up! We didn't come here to learn about your sick obsessions."

"But Sir," he counters and his friends are grinning in anticipation, "the female form is a beautiful thing and it's' only natural when two people love each very much . . ."

I cut him off there by making as though I'm about to poke him in the eye. I want them to work and me to relax. He gets the message; peace reigns again.

Irish Independent

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