These days, kids download Mpegs and wavefiles...

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
...Learning a real instrument is far too time-consuming. Anyway, who is Simon Rattle?

Gemma Morning, Donna. Did you have a good holiday? Yes thank you, headmaster. The teachers aren't in yet. That's unusual, isn't it?

It would be normally, Donna. But not any more. From this term it's just you and the other classroom assistants.

So who's going to teach the children?

Dear, dear, you haven't been reading your TES. You see, the Government had a jolly good idea. Blue skies thinking, we call it. With the progress of technology, we don't need to waste money on all those expensive teachers; we just need one person in charge. Put the children in front of computer monitors, use people like you to watch over 'em, and our problem's solved.

But headmaster, the new ICT suite broke down four times last term.

I know, Donna. We were ripped off by that firm that installed it. Still, we're not the only school. Lots of others have been ripped off too.

Can't we get them in to sort things out?

They're not answering the phone. There's a message to say they're on holiday. In Bermuda. Still, most of our computers work. Sort of.

What about science experiments? I don't have the knowledgeI You don't need it, Donna. The computer program deals with all that. The children watch the experiments on the monitor. Saves them messing about with test tubes. They only break the bloody things anyway.

But shouldn't children be experimenting with things?

Not these days. That sort of thinking went out with Plowden. And just think of the benefits. No health and safety rules, or hours spent writing risk assessments.

What about music? I can't even play a penny whistle.

Again, no problem Donna. The computer can simulate any instrument. Select cello, push a button, and you've got a cello. Easy to play, too. Just follow Mr Bouncy as he leads you through the Ode to Joy.

It's not real. And it doesn't sound it. People like Simon Rattle are concerned about music having low priority in primary schools.

Move into the 21st century, Donna. These days, kids download Mpegs and wavefiles. Learning a real instrument is far too time-consuming. Anyway, who's Simon Rattle?

What about English and maths? I can't teach them to Sats level.

You're not being asked to. There are thousands of worksheets you can use.

Just print them from the computer and photocopy.

But worksheets are so boring.

Lots of things in life are boring, Donna.

The more I think about this, the more I worry. We don't have the expertise or discipline the teachers have. We couldn't possibly take them to concertsI or museumsI or galleriesI How many more times, Donna. You don't need to. The computer will take you to the Tate and soon it'll all be in virtual reality. Look at the savings on transport.

But the ethos of the schoolI the friendships, the laughter. All the exciting events at ChristmasI Keep an eye on the ball, Donna. Our brief is to get the Sats results up.

Frankly, I think the DfES Charlie who dreamed all this up is a complete idiot. Do you really want this for your own children, headmaster?

It won't affect me, Donna. My three are all at private school.

Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary, London borough of Southwark.


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