It might surprise you to know but…

Kids aren’t always tuned into technology. In fact getting my sixth formers to engage with anything even slightly tekkie is like trying to get Michael Gove to listen to teachers.

Take Twitter… I am a firm believer that twitter could be one of the most powerful tools in any teacher’s kitbag. What’s more, it’s social media – that one thing that teenagers just can’t get enough of. I could Tweet the latest research from the world of psychology, get them to tweet all the wonderful psychology stuff they find, engage them with witty and fun question and answer sessions, offer prizes for the strangest psychology-related link.

So I set up a Twitter account…

Two people followed, then another two (but they weren’t students). Eventually there was a tiny trickle of followers while I spent valuable time looking for things to entertain them with.

More followers (yay)… but not my students (boo).

Academic psychologists followed, sports psychologists, professional psychologists of all kinds, other school psychology departments, the local MP.

…But if success is measured on how well the tool serves the intended purpose, things were not looking too good.

I was crestfallen. This was supposed to revolutionise the way I engaged my students.

A asked them why they didn’t follow…

“We don’t like Twitter,” they replied.


…Facebook, yes, all kids love Facebook…

I opened a psychology Facebook page and linked it to Twitter.

1 like… 2 likes… 3 likes (but not a student). The trickle slowed to a drip. To date the Facebook page has 8 likes (not all my students).

Is it that they see this as some kind invasion of their space? Am I the intruder into their world?

Or are they just lazy?

…And it’s not just social media.

I’ve recently decided that (for some work anyway) students should complete their essays on a word processor and email it to me. I can then comment, mark and return it without ever having to deal with (or lose!) a piece of paper.

“Can’t we just write it?”

“ I’d rather you didn’t”

“But I don’t like word processing stuff. I’d rather write it”.

…I was rapidly loosing the will to live.

There is common view that teenagers are excited about technology and will engage with it whenever it’s offered. What, I think, many of us in teaching fail to grasp is that they have all grown up with technology – to them it’s nothing special. In fact, most of it is ‘kinda boring’.

Those who use Twitter do so in order to chat to their friends. Likewise Facebook is simply a way to stay in touch (like us oldies used to write letters or speak on the telephone – the kind which is wired to a box on the wall). These things have nothing to do with education or learning.

…The older they get, the more they seem to turn off.

I’ve always been amazed at how little older teenagers know about technology. That might seem odd, but to them engaging with technology is about playing Assassins Creed, using social media or uploading and watching videos of exploding frogs on YouTube

…this isn’t really what we mean by “engaging with technology” is it?

Of course it might just be me (or the pupils and schools I’ve experienced) but somehow I doubt it.

One thought on “It might surprise you to know but…

  1. An interesting post! I have had similar experience, however also feel that this behaviour and lack of engagement online is partly because students are so focused on the exam and what they need from it that they give little time or attention to anything that isn’t blindingly obvious in its links to the exam, which is such a shame!

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