Each Month Mr Renwick publishes school news in the Wenlock Herald and below is the April article:
As I begin to write/type/tap this article out I am aware that this week marks the 25th anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web, something that has had a profound impact on the whole of society and on education too. What began life as a military project to share critical information between a few computers has evolved into a myriad of digital devices offering thousands of options to harvest knowledge. The digital revolution has shaped the way we teach and learn; how we organise and communicate; how information is consumed and what we are able to do with it once we have it.
As a school, William Brookes has always pioneered new technologies and worked hard to make them efficient partners in providing a first class educational experience for our students. Recently we had an opportunity for our Year 8 students to mark another anniversary – the Centenary of World War One. This allowed us to not only use modern technology as an aid to discovery, but to compare and contrast what children have at their disposal now and what was available to them a hundred years ago.
For a whole week students spent each day researching, investigating and sharing their findings on a whole range of subjects including: how the war affected the local community; why it was illegal to feed pigeons in 1917; what medicine was like during WW1 and how to hide a ship, to name but a few.
Students explored different ways of reporting on the war using photographers, artists and poets. This led them to discover the work of Shropshire’s own Wilfred Owen, killed in action just one week before the end of the war.
They found examples of old toys and games then used skills ‘from the past’ to construct their own dolls using rags and old string. They considered the engineering challenges of firing a gun through an aeroplane’s propeller; the logistics of supplying munitions to soldiers and the affect a European based war had on the forests of North America.
Students spent the week utilising the latest technology to provide information they could use in their work and to enrich and present their findings. Some of them used one particular internet site to find out if their own ancestors had fought in the war or any other war dating back to 1350. Twenty years ago finding the answer to that question alone would have taken the entire week; we were able to access this information instantly.
Our own history and heritage can provide a wealth of fascinating discoveries; new technologies mean we have better access to those discoveries and part of a school’s role is to channel that technology so that more relevant and interesting information is available to all our learners.
With the increasing pace of change in the scientific and communication worlds, it would be interesting to know what means students a hundred years from now would use to find out about us, but we won’t be around to find out. Or will we?