Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Home and Away: is it setting a good example for 21st century learning?

As those who follow me on Twitter are aware, one of my many addictive devices that I have is my love of reality television and old episodes of Home and Away and Sons and Daughters.  Some may love chocolate, others alcohol.  My weakness is 80's TV.  I am really a sad sad man.

The other day, my favourite Summer Bay High Principal (Donald Fisher) was delivering a lesson to his class.  All of his students were sitting in rows and facing the front.  He was reading directly out of a text book and the kids were not engaged or interacting with him at all.  As I was watching this occur, my first thought was "Geez these kids look bored," and my second thought was "Shane Roberts would have a nervous breakdown if he had to teach in these conditions!"  On Friday, one of my students came to me and said “You would have hated teaching at Summer Bay High Mr Proud.”  When I asked Jack why, he simply said to me “Because everything is so unlike what we do here in 7D1”

Like many others, I also enjoyed the show Summer Heights High, which aired on the ABC a couple of years ago.  For those who haven't seen this comedy, Summer Heights High is a Logie Award-winning[1] Australian television mockumentary series written by and starring Chris Lilley. It is a parody of high school life epitomised by its three protagonists: effeminate and megalomaniacal "Director of Performing Arts" Mr G; self-absorbed, privileged teenager Ja'mie King; and disobedient, vulgar Tongan student Jonah Takalua. All played by Lilley, the characters never interact. It lampoons Australian high school life and many aspects of the human condition and is filmed in a documentary style, with non-actors playing supporting characters.  One of the main characters in this show was Jonah.  Jonah unfortunately had learning difficulties and special needs.  He was regularly shown working in group situations which enabled his learning to successfully take place due to the fact that his learning style was catered for.  Jonah’s culture heritage was acknowledged and things were put in place to enable him to learn if he wanted to.

But I digress.  Everything about Summer Bay High from Home and Away, smacks of traditional schooling.  Even now, in 2011, their classrooms are still the same in design and feel as it was back in the mid 80’s.  The characters have changed but the rooms have not.

When will the producers of Home and Away get aboard the transformationallearning bandwagon and start demonstrating the good practice that 21st century teachers deliver?  I have never seen a piece of technology in a Summer Bay High School classroom, not even the trusty old overhead projector!  They really ar

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