I attended the Scholar conference last Friday at Heriot Watt Uni. It was quite interesting to share ideas on how to use Scholar effectively from people who have used it much more than I have. In fact, I think the whole day was perfect for someone like me – a newcomer. The two main themes of the day were Scholar (obviously) and the Curriculum for Excellence. I get the feeling from many Scottish teachers that they have heard about these two things A LOT – but I know very little about them both.
1. Scholar: I love it. It’s such a fantastic resource and I only wish I could use it more. It’s hard to believe that there is an online and paper-based resource which perfectly matches the course. Why can’t I use it more? There doesn’t seem to be much of a culture amongst the kids of using Scholar in my school, so they don’t go online without lots of encouragement. Also, I find it difficult to incorporate Scholar into lessons with the pupils actually using it themselves. This normally involves booking computers in another part of the school and walking them there and back – difficult to dip in and out of Scholar as suggested at the conference.
2. Curriculum for Excellence: What is it all about? Brian Boyd spoke about Curriculum for Excellence and Scholar’s place within it. What was amazing to me was how different CfE sounded from Brian compared to what I’d already heard. I don’t know a huge amount about it being a newcomer. In fact, not much more than the four competencies which are on a wall in nearly every classroom. The impression I had up until now was that CfE wasn’t going to involve massive changes and was all about developing what we already do well and tweaking some things that need tweaking. Having listened to Brian (who was in some way involved with the creation of CfE) I’ve now heard a very different view. His view seems to involve a much more cross-curricular theme-based approach to secondary education with a very very different approach to assessment – i.e. a radical shift away from Highers. As he said a number of times during his address – “will the CfE actually be a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic?”
So although I’m more confused about a few things, I feel that this is the point of a conference. You should leave a conference with questions, not answers – that’s what training is for.