Is there a single philosophy or approach which is best suitable for the use of technology in education? Should educators introduce and integrate more technology into education considering the technological advances in the 21st century? By exploring the philosophies and approaches of two independent Sydney schools this blog will provide an insight into the differences the two schools take as they embrace the 21st century culture.
Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) has recently changed their approach to education and the use of technology in their school as they now have a students centered learning approach where the students are put first. Steve Collis the director of innovation at NBCS mentions that “putting the students first” is their premise and that they have built out a school around this premise. NBCS’s innovative approach has been implemented to directly accommodate the students with the technological changes in society. Because of their approach the use of technology in classrooms is evident as students use their BYO laptops in all their classes. Their laptops and other technology are used as “tools for learning” stating that it will aid and benefit the students in their studies.
Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School (KRSS) has always had and most likely will always have a philosophy and approach that varies from the philosophies and approaches of schools such as NBCS. One of the key principles in Steiner schools philosophies and approaches is the integration of the arts into all subjects and learning areas as they believe this plays a pivotal role in the development of the student. KRSS’s principle Virginia Moller mentions that her schools approach is a very “Steiner” approach, having black boards instead of smart boards and other technology supported boards. KRSS’s approach to technology is different to NBCS’s approach however Virginia Moller claims the Steiner approach is not against the use of technology however it is a matter of when it is introduced as in can be often misused. To ensure they develop the student in an optimal way they do not introduce any technology in their learning and are kept “unplugged” until they get to the older years where they use the technology as “tools for learning”.
Strangely enough I have personally been evolved with both these schools as a students myself as my primary school Covenant Christian School was close to both these two schools. In primary school every year I would play various sports against NBCS and also caught the shared bus from NBCS, so I have been able to see them development their facilities and in particular their learning spaces. In year 6 one of the students from our school caused an incident with a KRSS student which resulted in both schools participating in a “build a bridge” initiative which consisted of my schools year 6 cohort visiting KRSS to watch their year 6 cohort perform “The Sound of Music”. Even until now I can still remember the high quality of their show in particular with their singing as every student could sing in tune with good tone. Their integration of the arts and in particular singing from Kindergarten clearly has benefits in every child’s musical development. Strangely enough in two weeks time I will be back at NBCS for my prac to experience for myself their student centered, project based and technology advanced approach and philosophy.
One might question “Is NBCS’s approach better than KRSS’s approach? Or vice versa?”, however I believe there is no single answer in an approach to the use of technology in music education. Both schools clearly use technology in their music classes as “tools for learning” and are seeing the benefits of it. However I believe schools, teachers and students should take advantage of the 21st century and its technological advances as when it is integrated properly it can be extremely beneficial for the students learning. Comparing NBCS from the early 2000’s to now they have definitely successfully adapted their school philosophy and approach to researched based ones which are 21st century approaches in which suit best the students of today most of whom were born in the 21st century. In saying this I also believe KRSS and their approaches has its pros as well benefiting students learning however every child is different and these various approaches can not cater for everyone. Because there is no one single model which perfectly suits every students, I believe it is the educators role to create a model and approach which suits the students by taking elements from different approaches and philosophies.
For more information about NBCS and KRSS: