Worth the wait

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Stephen Heppell is relieved that John Davitt has finally committed his vast experience of ICT in schools to paper

Computing in schools has a long history which has seen more than its fair share of daft ideas, including some over-commercial, but ratherunder-functional initiatives. It has seen some genuinely brave ministers and civil servants, some astonishing children and some inspired teachers, but typically it has seen nothing like enough common sense.

Luckily, a few souls that have been around for most of that history have accumulated vast treasuries of useful thoughts and tips, together with more than a little science about how learning works.

John Davitt has moved from teacher to adviser and local education authority genius, then on to a role as roving consultant, spreading his wisdom through a mix of workshops and journalism. Toiling the soil part time on his Irish farm seems to have kept him relatively sane. And now, saints be praised, he has committed to print some of the thoughts that have delighted teachers at his workshops.

This is a book for every staffroom and the only surprise is that it didn't come pre-drilled in the corner so that it could be chained down to stop it walking away. It is invitingly ungeeky to pick up, yet too seductive to put down. It has practical whole-school projects and plenty of insight into the learning process. Flip from page to page to find yet another thought, idea or example. It is wholeheartedly reaffirming: learning can be this good; technology can be this challenging! For goodness sake buy it and it might encourage the old chap to write another and another. We need all he can give us.

Prof Stephen Heppell is director of the National College of Ireland's Learn3K research unit in Dublin

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