After reading the first 50 pages of this book, I was feeling fairly depressed. The picture painted by Jeremy White is one of schools failing to deliver anything like a satisfactory educational experience. Universities receive a good share of the blame for dictating a model of education based solely on academic achievement, resulting in a discipline-based school curriculum. White argues that schools subject all their pupils to a regime that is only of benefit to the 30 per cent who will go on to higher education.
White provides some pointers to a remedy. For example, bringing education closer to the world of work. There are examples of schemes and projects that are attempting to build bridges between the worlds of education and work. There are examples of school-to-work schemes, community partnerships, and schools making real efforts to engage with the needs of society.
Information and communications technology is presented as an important opportunity for schools to re-orientate the curric-ulum towards skills such as problem-solving, creativity and entrepreneurship. The increased availability of information through ICT forms the central theme of many of the projects described. White argues that ICT provides a unique chance to equip pupils with the indepen-dence and confidence needed to be effective lifelong learners.
Schools for the 21st Century is thought-provoking, informative and well-structured. The sum-mary leaves the reader with three options to consider for the future of UK schools: forget reform; take reform seriously and re-invent the school system; or try to integrate the best of our current thinking with the possibilities opened by new technologies. The clear message is that there is in reality probably only one option, if we are to make the best use of new technology.
Les Watson is Dean of Information Services at Cheltenham and Glou-cester College of Higher Education