Documenting from Scotland the rise of the One World King; the "masonic" Sun God.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Crossing the line

Prince William and Kate have a bug-bear concerning a press photographer who is allegedly harassing their son and his nanny, so much so that they have threatened legal action. (

Prince William and Kate kindled their relationship at St. Andrews in Scotland, a place where the first meridian line was laid, "arguably making it where time began". (BBC)

I have a bug-bear concerning a new beginning.

My boy has just turned seven. He attends the local council primary school, so he can learn to swim in the same direction as the other children. It's maybe not the best decision, but it's been made. For the last two years he has religiously been given a weekly reading book as part of his homework, the literature provided by the Oxford Reading Tree, the stories  generally revolving  around a Chip, Biff,  Kipper and a magic key. Not this year though.

This year his school have introduced a fresh, dynamic, computer based reading programme, going by the name of Bug Club, produced by an "educational" profit making company called PEARSON. The basics are that the teacher selects a book for the pupil, the pupil returns home, logs into PEARSON's site and accesses the book for reading through the medium of the computer. The teacher is able, from their end, to view progress and also the results of the very irritating (in terms of a continuous read) bug-questions which pop up when you click on the bug icons which appear every couple of pages or so. 

If the pupils get the bug questions correct they receive bug points , which they can then use to trade for something or other, something or other that's intangible other than a computer reward. It's structure reminds me of some of the games that I am led to believe can be played on tablets and mobiles, although in some of them, the intangible rewards can be bought with tangible electronic cash.

A Trojan Horse
Some of books provided are based around children's TV characters, although PEARSON's refer to them, perhaps more correctly, as BRANDS. They kindly advise us that the rationale behind their use is because today's children watch so much T.V. and D.V.D.s, that they have no time for books. It reminds me of a vicious circle.

What needs noted here is that there does not appear to have been any actual studies, with controls, done on the effectiveness of this new programme and whether indeed it does improve overall reading abilities in either the short or long term. However, they do provide some snippets, anecdotes, and  short videos (here):

Tanya Byron, child psychologist :
“I think Bug Club is a genius concept and I think it's genius in a number of ways. First of all, I think the simplicity of the concept is really attractive; you don't have to be technologically really savvy as a parent or the teacher, to be able to engage in Bug Club.

Nor does one need to be with a book, Tanya - although given your father was a T.V. director, your husband a T.V. actor, and you yourself have made three T.V. programme series', then perhaps there are other influences at play here, other vested interests?

Now remember, we know Tanya must be clever because in the promotional video, her cleverly constructed backdrop consists of some leatherbound books, some clutter, an animal skull, an open piano. You get the drift.

Tanya likes to talk with her hands. She moves them a lot, like a magician. Her sleeves are bare, though the baggy-necked jumper may come in handy.

She claims that not all parents are capable of the old way of doing things : pupil gets book with accompanying jotter. Child and parent sit together and read book, child reading out loud. Parent helps with "sounding", missed words, etc. Parent signs off jotter, notes any matters in comment section of such. Pupil takes book and jotter back to school

Tanya then goes on to promote the product by claiming all parents can now engage, "can import into the home". A parent can thus see what is going on at school is her claim (and vice versa one imagines; whilst although one does not entirely believe Tanya's financially renumerated pitch, one can perhaps read the tea leaves)

Q - to Tanya Byron - What's good about technology with children 

A - A lot of children consume a lot of  their content on line or via the digital world.

A - Technology helps us to specify the children's abilities (or lack of one presumes) and offer a more child-centric education.

Watch her here, and weep . What  Tayna does, per PEARSON's, is utilise her psychological awareness to attempt to sell you a concept; an unproven remedy to a known malaise. Her sales techniques are very well honed: "badly behaved boys" are due to the fact they are, often, unable to learn. It's a "no brainer".  We are trying to educate/create "digital citizens" - it might be interesting if you are a "mother/parent", like her.

 Adorable twins from yesterday's mail on line.
Anyhow, a letter was sent out by the school inviting parents  to a presentation in regard of Bug Club. I attended. There was maybe about thirty five parents, or so I thought. Given my own antiquity-  46 - then, well, for a split second I thought I  looked great -  until I realised the truth. Many of them were grandparents.

The head teacher "explained matters". Biff and Chip, Kipper and the magic key, were redundant. The school's literacy rates were below par. Allegedly, the children are disinterested. Thus came the decision to axe. The vehicle they have utilised to teach children how to read for the last 15 years has been "Boxered". (See Animal Farm)

 I said my bit, "fostering an early reliance on technology"; "creating a bond between TV brands and school"; "utilising what appear to be untested learning products (certainly in the long term)"; "is there any actual proof, real proof, that this will be better." ?

The teachers didn't appear to know what to make of it. Some of the grandparents were nodding though.


National Literacy Charity- Childrens progress hindered by e-books and Kindles charity warns

wiki - Tanya Byron


Mike said...

What the f**k is going on out there?!
A few years ago Gordon Brown talked about taking the country into a "digital economy".
My immediate thought was; does that mean an economy that doesn't exist?
Are they taking humanity into nothingness?
A completely blank slate.

aferrismoon said...

Bugs - is it because its supposed to bug the parents?

Maybe they'll be able to access time and date of parents educating the children at home, build up a nice map of their 'movements'.

Digital consumption!

Oddly your education article rhymes with hamilton Academical beating Celtic and being top of the league, which is also a very schooly these days.


Newspaceman said...

Hiya Mike, sorry to take so long. That's the way I see it too - a blank slate ready for reprogrammming (which is aleady beginning).

Moon, not that it worries me, but yes, they are able to access times, dates, time spent on pages and who knws what else. One can imagine with the speed of technology that they may even soon be able to look in one's home via their gadget. However, the children will be used to it by then... so no worries. It's deeply disturbing.