Glancing through the Daily Telegraph earlier this week I was intrigued to read an article, written by a Headmaster, that explained why he has imposed a ‘non-tech philosophy’ on his Derbyshire Prep School. In an attempt to keep children ‘child-like’, he has banned all screens and phones – except in dedicated IT lessons. He preaches the value of face-to-face, child-to-child communication; he laments the impersonal nature of technology which he sees as a major distraction in the presence of digital devices.
I see the point that Peter Phillips is making. Although our main aim at BCS (like his at St. Anselm’s in Bakewell) is to prepare pupils for the ‘real world’, in which digital is now an irreversible feature, we also have a duty to protect our children from themselves. We have a responsibility to help them use technology responsibly; to stop technology from abusing them. One thing is for sure: human interaction is often the most effective mode of transmitting an idea from person to person.
At the start of this week I challenged the Prep School to learn the numbers one to ten in Japanese during assembly with the help of actions that I performed in front of them. Many a child has come up to me since that ten-minute assembly, beaming, and told me their own method of remembering the numbers. With all due respect to You Tube, Facebook, WhatsApp and the rest, I believe that the personal approach could not have been bettered by technology in this instance.
Doubtless our boys and girls will have enjoyed some screen activity during Half Term, but it has evidently done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for work on their return, and the girls have been in great heart on the new Astro-Turf area, which is proving a huge boon.
It is certainly promising to be a busy run-up to Christmas, not least for the Year 6 children, who are entering the final phases of their exam schedule. Highlights to savour start tonight as we crane our necks and gaze in awe at the fireworks (nothing ‘virtual’ about our rockets and Roman Candles!). This will be a sparkling event, made possible by the commitment and cooperation of The Friends Committee. Thank you to all who have helped to make this event possible, on behalf of staff and pupils. Tickets are now sold out.
Next Tuesday, we have the first of what I envisage will be a series of BCS lectures. Dr E A Rees will talk on the subject of The October Revolution Centenary. I am delighted that this event will be attended by current pupils, parents, staff, governors and old scholars, bringing together the BCS Community.
Meanwhile, have a great weekend.
NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER