christmas mc cranky pants

Yesterday was shrink day and afterwards I spent some time in the city. Running around doing Christmasy things like it's Christmas or something. I'm trying to feel it but I'm not. Gerard got a bit of a serve about it the other day. It wasn't really his fault. Christmas Mc Cranky pants, that would be me. So it was interesting to talk to my doctor about everything. I don't think she was surprised about my leaving work but she did suggest that maybe I could have gone on stress leave. Ooops, a  bit late for that. We talked about my crankiness and the guilt and all the other less than pleasant feelings that have emerged since the initial elation subsided. She said it is a big adjustment and that I need to take all of January off and relax. I already knew all that but it was nice to have her say it too.
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Walked around the grey drizzling city, bumping into people and wanting to spend big and be frugal. Hopefully I have found a middle path but I always find it hard not to overspend a bit. Bought some nice hand drawn and printed Christmas cards from  a guy sitting on the footpath outside Myer. We had a bit of a chat and I didn't say but I admired his enterprise. Had a coffee at the GPO which is my favourite place to have coffee in the city. Checked my emails and whoa..... the school PFA email list is running hot with various positions on the school's proposed one to one ipad program. I fussed and fumed all the way home, but this is what I think and what I wrote. Clearly I am in over sharing mode but I blaming Christmas (and the Recurrent Family Christmas Shit Cycle) and the leaving work/crazy shit.

While I may be a bit sceptical about ipads coming from a staunch PC/Android family, I do see enormous benefits in a one to one ipad program for our school.  However I have some very serious concerns about the way the program has been rolled out and the equity issue. After raising the matter with the school,  I was told that having her own ipad would accelerate my child’s learning but when I mentioned that we may not be able to afford one without forgoing something else (I have just left my job - so funds are being carefully monitored) I was then told that she could use a class set but it was made pretty clear to me that this is definitely a second best option and that should extra money become available, I should then purchase an ipad for her. No sensitivity was shown concerning my current situation and it was all very awkward and tense.   Later when I thought about it, I thought equity schmequity.
All the DEECD material I have read makes it clear that an ipad is a personal device and that the best results come when students have their own personal ipad. This appears to be what the school is aiming for. But what of the kids that don’t get their own ipad? What of kids who don’t have access at home, who don’t have all their work loaded up on their own personal ipad? Will their learning be accelerated in the same way? I suspect you can’t have it both ways. How are kids going to feel using the bank of school ipads when other kids have their own personalised ipads? What if there are say three students in each class who don’t get their own ipad? Will they and their families feel a bit second best, a bit not advantaged? Is that we really want in our State school? At the end of the day we could buy an ipad for Grace if all the other kids have one but there may be families who might not be in that position. In the job that I have just left, I regularly saw families from this area (including working families) choosing whether to spend their money on food OR rent (which is now hideously expensive around here). The EMA and school kids bonus would just disappear into keeping the household afloat. People may not show it (and they shouldn’t have to) but for some these are hard times. Just because you are poor shouldn’t mean that your child gets a second best education.
What I would like is for our school community to have a genuine, honest and non-shaming discussion around equity and the other issues people have raised. We might not come up with the perfect solution but I think we can do better than this model as it stands. I think if we are serious about having a one to one ipad program then it should be just that. Every kid gets one, end of story. We could look at different model such as the one at Moreland PS (it is compulsory and the school owns the laptops and leases them to families), and I’m sure there are other things we could come up with. There could also be special behind the scenes arrangements made where necessary. 
I'm interested to know if there are any other one to one ipad programs in other primary schools? Do they have models where some kids have their own ipads 24/7 and some kids use the school ipads in class?  I haven't even touched on the issues around whether ipads are the right technology and whether primary school children need to be that immersed. This model just seems so unfair to me. Especially without an honest discussion about the issues.

So there you go Christmas Mc Crankypants. Hopefully I'll find some joy in the season soon - I usually do, even if it is a bit last minute. We're going on the annual family excursion to Norflands this afternoon, and you know, I just can't wait.

6 comments:

  1. Don't do it.
    Our school had to give each VCE kid a netbook. The amount of time my kids WASTED playing games and looking at downloaded tv shows, as well as the usual FB stuff was appalling. I think they're the worst thing ever.

    She's only in primary school. Why on earth do little kids like that need their own ipad?? This is so ridiculous.

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  2. We need to have a conversation!
    My child was one of the 3-4 students in grade six without their own iPad. Unfortunately, our school has a 'bring you own device model' which included NO school iPads. He did have access to the teachers iPad at times, but I question whether that's a reasonable expectation of the teachers- to share their personal iPad
    We have had a pretty difficult year with it all, he has felt very excluded at times (not what you want when you are 12!) and we have felt nagged by him- which we had never really experienced before. Basically, a fair bit of conflict all round- and we are all feeling left a bit battered and bruised!

    We submitted a formal complaint, detailing our concerns about the model. Particularly about students being excluded- and parents feeling 'put upon' to purchase something they don't necessarily want or are able to easily pay for. Our request was that the school would consider at least buying a few school ipads so the kids who don't have one can at least have one to work on during school time and are able to participate in the same activities.
    We got a generic letter a couple of weeks ago stating that the iPad program had been so fantastic that it would be extended to now include grades 4,5,6 - with it compulsory for grades 6 in 2013, 5 & 6 in 2014 & 4,5 & 6- which will mean some families are up for two.
    I was advised that there are 'heaps' of other schools who have a 1-1 iPad program where the school owns no iPads, but I haven't come across any- would love to hear peoples experience.
    I actually felt that our complaint was partly dismissed as being a family who are having trouble adjusting to the modern world- despite saying that I felt used appropriately I can see the ipad could be a useful learning tool and keeping the details of the letter about the model.
    Other parents have had issues but don't feel comfortable putting in a complaint- either because it was their last child at the school or because it's hard (and it is!) or they felt nothing would be done anyway (which given no response to our letter and finding out the decision via a generic letter and no further contact could very easily be our understanding).
    The other thing was that it meant some families chose to buy their child an iPad rather than paying the school fees- because they didn't want their child to miss out, and if they don't pay fees they wont miss out. This means our kid has missed out- and because we believe in paying the fees to cover the supplies our kids use- it means we are subsidising the families who haven't paid fees.
    To me, it's common sense- that doesn't seem like a fair system- but that hasn't seemed to be taken into consideration, or alternative models examined closely- they just say the school can't afford them- I say- yeah, but neither can the parents! This is in a rural area with a pretty low average SES.


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  3. Our school has an award winning IT policy and is being used as a model for other schools. We don't have 1:1 anything, despite being in an affluent area. In fact, there are no iPads in the school, except for the teachers. The kids have access to iPod touches, MacBook pros and iMacs. I've witnessed a class where some kids were using iPods, others were writing on paper, others had the laptops and the rest were working on something else. The kids are perfectly exposed to IT with this, they know more than most grown-ups. I don't think they need their own device at primary school!

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  4. I too was in a situation where I was required to purchase a iPad for my grade 6 child. My concerns were that my child and I'm sure all her peers were not psychologically responsible for the device an I believe that 5 students broke their devices. Something that also needs to be considered is the age and brain development and the impact that such a device will have on the child. Impacts such as screen time, social interaction, obsession to games and general usage, the relationship between the child and parents.carer (the added stress & conflict around managing usage at home) and for me there was a reduction in family interaction that needed to be managed.

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  5. Equity is definitely an issue but I would also ask them to show you the research that shows having ipads will "accelerate their learning". It doesn't look like there has been much done so far. If this is being done as a research project they should be providing every kid with an ipad. I would suggest to them that until they can provide a pile of scholarly research to back up their assertions, they'd better pony up for an ipad so your kid doesn't suffer bullying (another hot topic, at least in Canada) at the hands of his ipad toting peers. Hurumph.

    In Ontario, Canada, there is a new policy that schools can't charge kids for anything they need for their class programs, even at secondary. So, if they need a sketchbook for art, the school must provide it. If they are sewing, the school must provide the material. They are no longer allowed to charge a materials fee. THere is no way schools would be allowed to require students to buy an ipad.

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  6. I'm with you on the Christmas McCrankypants. I cam back from Qld all joyous and frothy, but now I'm just frothing at the mouth thanks to too much to do, too many expectations foisted upon me by others, and too little time. Next year I'm not going ANYWHERE and people who cancel plans on me at the last minute will be OFF THE CHRISTMAS LIST.

    But merry Christmas to you and yours, my sweet lady. Hope our pants gets less cranky soon. xxxx

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