We know of course that this is the way things are done these days. Fewer face-to-face transactions. Fewer opportunities for human error. Pilotless air flight. Driverless cars. What will they think of next? At the EI conference in Rotterdam we heard Andy Hargreaves railing against the march of technological solutions to the problem of education. He gave us a robust critique of developments such as the Bridge International Academies which provides ‘low-cost education’ in countries such as Liberia, Uganda and Nigeria. Their approach is to minimise dependency on their teacher’s ability to plan lessons and make other professional judgements. Teachers are given an iPad with all their lessons pre-loaded, planned by experts at central office. Hargreaves’ argued that in this sort of approach teachers are construed as mere technicians and ‘decisional capital’ is diminished.
In HertsCam, our raison d’etre is to promote a mode of professionality in which teachers’ decisional capital is enhanced and extended rather than substituted by technology, so it is perhaps not surprising that we responded warmly to Andy Hargreaves’ message. Human warmth is what we depend on to support dialogue and collective knowledge building in our network events. We have seen wonderful examples of this recently at an event in Taraz, Kazakhstan where teachers from four local schools came together along with a group of four teachers from HertsCam schools. They used tried and tested techniques to create a sense of friendship and community within a very short period of time. We saw this happen again recently at Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden when colleagues hosted the 6th Network Event of the year. You can tell from the slide show on this website that the event was above all a glorious set of human transactions. You could hear live music from students as network members from many schools reconnected over refreshments in the sunshine. All of this eased the way for robust discussion of vital aspects of professional practice which strengthens everyone’s ability to make decisions and exercise professional judgement in their daily work.