You can't eat a vision

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
COMING hopefully to a secondary school near you - a half day's training on the Internet revolution, the single most important change affecting pupils and their teachers in this, or any other, century. The tutor is bright and cheerful, as befits a man seconded from a school to do this job - while he outlines the Vision Thing.

Your personal productivity tool (or laptop) will be issued soon, once the lawyers have negotiated its release from a city warehouse, where it has been unfortunately trapped by litigation.

Once it has flown the coop, along with a 50-hour training manual, teachers will be able to acquaint themselves with its potential during the ennui of the summer holidays, enabling them to achieve miraculous results on the return to school in August. Homework can be e-mailed back to students with corrections made, bereft of the need for human contact. No longer will a crumpled F2 be pulled from the waistband of the trousers with this week's exercise.

No, homework will be forwarded electronically - along with, no doubt, reasons for the pupil's non-attendance, complaints from parents and requests for materials to be transmitted to the student's home. (Years ago, I remember a comparative education lecturer saying that in America children phonedto see what was on the lunch menu before deciding whether to attend).

For almost 30 years now I've obviously been marking pupils' work wrongly, naively seeking where possible the chance of talking with the student when work was being returned. There's one headteacher in Glasgow who is so evangelically enthusiastic about the Internet revolution that he greets his staff by saying, "I've sent you an e-mail", rather than by saying "Hello".

Back at my course the headteacher two along from me is taking his own first tentative steps on the Net by trying to book a cheap hotel in Lisbon for his summer holidays. The tutor, acknowledging Arthur C Clarke, says the Internet is like trying to get a glass of water from Niagara. I wonder would it not be simpler to walk to the nearest tap.

Last month a note was left in my pigeon-hole saying that there was something waiting for me in the office. More Higher Still materials I surmised, but when at last I went, there it was - a cake baked by the head of home economics saying Clyde 2000 Champions, and tastefully decorated with black and red piping.

As she said when I thanked her: "Well, it doesn't happen very often." Now there's a present that couldn't have been e-mailed or accessed via the Internet.


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