It's the gadgets, stoopid*
The biggest teaching union in the UK, and the smallest in Scotland (does that tell you something?), has no doubt lobbied the English Children's Minister Kevin Brennan into telling parents to keep Christmas gadgets at home, rather than bringing mobiles, MP3 players and other technology into the classroom:
General secretary of teaching union the NASUWT Chris Keates said: "Every year some youngsters arrive back at school with MP3 players, mobile phones and electronic games.
"This can be a real headache for teachers when they are trying to get everyone settled down to start learning. Teachers would be grateful if pupils just brought a pen."
Mr Brennan said many Christmas presents got broken in the first weeks of the new term or had to be confiscated by teachers because they were misused in class.
"It is rightly down to schools to decide how best to deal with electronic equipment being brought in for use in the playground, but we are absolutely clear that when it comes to lessons, noisy toys are not acceptable," he added.
The NASUWT continue not to get it, continue to pontificate in blissful ignorance, and putting education second to letting their teachers drag on in the way their Victorian ancestor colleagues did. Worse still, they're using the serious but minority issue of technology abuse and the noble "Stop Cyberbullying" mantra to do it. But it's not cyberbullying between students, but of teachers. Their thoughts are clearly in the right place. Further still, they offer no way to have a dialogue, only an option to support their motions. Ignorant and undemocratic - what a dangerous combination.
The only way to stop cyberbullying, if they and the Children's Minister would like to make an attempt at pedagogy, is to show students how to use the tools they got for Christmas, in the classroom. Parents aren't necessarily trained in how to do this but, worringly, neither are many teachers.
Instead, get the students to show the functionalities of their tools and how they can be abused. Importantly, get them to show how they can be used to make learning faster, more fun or more accessible. The teachers, the Unions and the Ministers may have a few things to learn themselves.
This post, as you might have guessed, may not reflect the views of my employers. However, if the NASUWT would like some help understanding these issues, understanding why they are simply wrong, then give me a call or drop me a line. The email link is on the top right of the blog.
* The title to this post, not an insult but a reference to the Clinton 1992 campaign.
Thanks to Doug for the tip-off