Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The News - Bullying and Apps

Over the Easter holidays I've been in the UK and I've been unplugged.  Instead of reading the news on my computer, I've been watching the BBC World News.  One thing I've realised as a result of this is how irritated I get with watching the news on TV.  I'm used to going online and selecting the news that I want to read in the order that I want to read it.  I'm used to clicking on links to find out more about the stories that interest me, and skimming on quickly from the ones that don't.  I found it irritating to have to watch the same footage over and over again as it was made to fit with the length of the story.  As a result of this I turned to reading newspapers as I felt a little more in control of what I actually read.  There were 2 stories last week that really caught my attention - about bullying and about apps that help children at school.

The first of these articles was entitled  28% of teachers report bullying.  The report went on to say:
More than a quarter of teachers have been bullied at work, according to new figures.  Of these 25% said they had been picked on by a pupil and 23% claimed they had been abused by a parent, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said.  The rest claimed they had been bullied by a senior leader such as a headteacher.
I was really shocked to read that - which means that basically more teachers are being bullied by those who are supposed to be supporting them in their jobs than by students or their parents.  I had never heard of the ATL before but I checked out their website when I got home today and there is a lot of information there about bullying of teachers - clearly it is a problem.  The statistics are based on schools in the UK, not international schools, but it's started me thinking about how common bullying is internationally too.  In the schools where I have worked I've been lucky enough to have wonderful students and parents on the whole who wouldn't dream of bullying, but I do know teachers who have claimed they have been bullied by managers.  This can take many different forms and I was interested to find on the ATL website that there is no legal definition of bullying, though the arbitration service ACAS defines it as "offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient".  The ATL website states:
Bullying has no place in the management of people.  Indeed a positive, constructive management style motivates everyone to make greater efforts.
The second newspaper article that I read this holiday that got me thinking was one entitled Apps help children at school.  This article, based on research from the Encyclopedia Britannica, was about how primary school pupils who use educational apps on smartphones are performing better in their lessons.  94% of parents who had downloaded an app said it helped their child.  I went onto the Britannica website and found a number of iPhone and iPad apps that look interesting to try with students.

It was hard to be unplugged for 10 days, but interesting to see how reliant I am on the internet.  In just a few short years my sources for news have completely changed.  I realise how much I want to interact with the news, not just passively consume it.  This has started me thinking about school websites too.  How the traditional website or newsletter is becoming less and less useful, and how blogs and wikis are far more useful as 2-way communication tools.

Photo Credit:  Elegant reader by Dean Ayres

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