Dear Ms Gillard,
I am a teacher-librarian in a secondary school in Victoria. I have worked as a librarian in primary and secondary schools and in state and private schools. Last year I was granted study leave to research ways to use technology and in particular, computers in education. This year I have been selected to present a paper at an international school librarians’ conference, entitled Helping Students to Become Lifelong Learners, which is about collaborating with teachers to teach Information Literacy Skills. As such, I feel I am qualified to speak to on the following matter.
While it might look good on paper to have a one-to-one ratio of computers for students, research has shown that using them as a tool, with other students and not always on their own is the best way to use this resource. Please take the time to read what Jamie McKenzie, a graduate from Yale and Columbia universities, with an MA in Reading, has to say on the subject: http://fno.org/jan03/jitt.html He can put it much more clearly than I.
I would also like to know how students will be able to use these computers that you are going to put into their hands? I often see Year 7 students, when they first enter secondary school, wasting their time surfing the net because they do not have the necessary Information Literacy Skills that they need now and in the future. Who is going to teach them these skills? Classroom teachers are overloaded with the curriculum they currently have to teach. The answer is a qualified teacher-librarian! As a full time teacher-librarian at my school I am able to team teach with classroom teachers, helping them and their students to learn the needed skills.
So, please, Ms Gillard, spend the money, not on computers for all children, but on supplying libraries and qualified teacher-librarians in all schools. By doing that, literacy skills will improve and our students will be better prepared for life in our rapidly changing world.
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” Walter Cronkite
Dona J. Hartwich
Curriculum Resource Co-ordinator
Horsham College Horsham, Victoria, Australia