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Literacy, Numeracy and Computeracy Print
October 2006

(for Principals & ICT Directors)

This is the first of a 2-part editorial reviewing the roles of ICT managers and directors in schools.  This part discusses what ICT means for education while the second will suggest how senior school managers could carry out that role in their school.  Part two will appear in the February 2007 issue of this newsletter.

To begin, let us quote the following comments by an English historian Paul Johnson as published in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of the Institute of Directors (New Zealand).  "The demands of ordinary people are not exorbitant.  They want all children to read, to read easily, accurately and sustainedly; to form, if possible, the habit of reading and acquire the taste for good literature.  They want all children to be taught to write, legibly, fluently and grammatically, to acquire a reasonably wide vocabulary and to spell correctly.  They want all children to be numerate and to handle proficiently the elementary instruments of a modern electronic society… And, not least, they want the schools to provide for all children a moral education: to instil, not just directly and specifically but through all the school's structures and procedures, clear distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil, decent behaviour and wickedness."

Two messages relating to ICT are encapsulated within this statement.  Firstly, "computeracy" is the modern addition to literacy and numeracy for education in the Information Age.  Secondly, our school ICT structure and systems have to reflect morality and be a player in the education process.  Let us read another quote from the principal of a major secondary school in Wellington.  "I am not opposed to the teaching of skills in Information Technology or critical of some of the superb work occurring in Graphics…  But these aspects of curriculum have more to do with vocational training than a liberal education."   The editor agrees that a liberal education is the base from which all schools operate but we should not see Information Technology in its narrow sense.  The Internet, for one, has contributed to a new culture.  The new culture is not a fashion.  It is the emerging base governing the development of modern human civilization such as open source (as in Linux), open standard (as in OSI-7 layer model), open contribution (as in Wikipedia), free flow of information (collapsing management hierarchy) and free cost of information (pushing cost to the knowledge layer).  The Information Age has a new context in which we need to apply the judgement of right and wrong.  We have pointed out in a previous issue that most schools set up their ICT systems with equipment bought on the short term concept of hardware price instead of the broad base of FFP (fitness for purpose) and long term TCO (total cost of ownership) logics and considerations.  Some schools have chosen to see PC's as commodities simply because it is the easy way out.  Choosing your hardware across all aspects of your network design needs to be an on-going process within a long term plan, where cost is not considered on an annual basis but total cost over a period of time is, where decisions are made that ensure that what is purchased will perform present requirements effectively but will also be capable of doing that for the software demands of 3 years hence. How you manage the use of this hardware is your contribution to a liberal education for your students. No, we want to be involved and not to get out.  Please feel free to discuss this article further with This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .