“I know you are into technology …”

Well – yes – I suppose I am, and I always have been.

Swindon Town Hall and Library

As I child I haunted the school library and, while I didn’t quite read every book, I was certainly familiar with every shelf. I had a town library card at five and usually reached the limit of two fiction and one nonfiction book per visit, which was every week. (Who makes up these rules? Very frustrating to have to find something in non-fiction when there were scores of Enid Blytons yet to be consumed.  This was before librarians as a tribe went on a misguided tirade against Blyton, who, single handedly, brought more children to reading as a habit than any other author of her era.)

And then – when I could afford my own books – I loved bookshops new and old, and spend hours ferreting out oddities in stores specializing in the second hand and out of print.

And of course I really like fountain pens, pencil boxes, good notebooks and stationery. And, in an early claim to administrative fame I was once the classroom ink monitor until I was displaced by the arrival in schools of a new writing technology – the biro, the ballpoint pen.

But that of course is not what the teacher meant by that title statement. Not books, pens, paper but machines, computers, laptops, digital equipment.

Sometimes these conversations remind of some I used to have around the topic of spelling and grammar back when I was an English teacher. If I didn’t assign spelling lists to be memorized, or exercises to parse sentences into grammatical pieces I would be asked, “Don’t you think spelling matters? Or don’t you think children need to write well?”

And of course spelling and usage are important. It was just my considered understanding that writing something that mattered was a better use of classroom time and a more effective way to teach those very skills.

Dawn from the PDS carpark

So I’m not into technology if that means studying the parts of the computer or if it replaces time outdoors and other forms of active playing. But I am into computers if it means we have access to incomparable learning tools for collaboration, creation and communication.

There are a thousand and one reasons to love libraries, books and digital technology. And for me, most of them have to do with learning and what they enable us to do. Such as show you this sunrise as seen from the school car park this morning.


  1. Sue Hart:

    to use a coined phrase “let a thousand flowers bloom” or a million? they are all good, books, computers, telephones, movies, television, mobiles, email, blogs, photos, conversation and certainly a walk in the woods. fill the cup

    love the blog

  2. admin:

    A bit cold in the woods today. But plenty to be learned there in any season.

    But you are so right when it comes to the tools for learning – the best tool is whichever is the most effective available tool for the task at hand. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Ann:

    Lovely sunrise. You must be dedicated to be there at that time!

  4. Hamsterfree?:

    I had not read this entry featuring Swindon School before making my comment on the following piece, so I am pleased to see a convergence of minds on the topic. And, indeed, we were only yesterday reminiscing about ink wells, scratchy pens, the superior fountain and the inevitable blobs, splashes and blue/black fingertips and face smudges. Neither of us, however, rose to be monitors, ink, milk or otherwise. So this would seem to bear out the saying “Show us the child of 7……

  5. admin:

    Hi Ann:
    Not so sure it’s dedication. I just happened to be there very early that morning and had to go and get the camera as the sun began to rise from under the trees. The days are getting longer though and one day last week I was actually home before it got dark.

    And to Hampster:
    I will have you know that being ink monitor was a most important position of great authority and I took it very seriously. The big flagon of blue ink was kept at the front and my task was to ensure every porcelain inkwell was filled first thing. Tremendous responsibility and a task that required considerable dexterity and kinesthetic intelligence. And thus was enabled the pink and blue ink-soaked, blotting paper pellets that would whizz around the room. I had a very nice Swan pen at some point – and it was a most effective way to disrupt the classroom. More anon.

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