Childhood and the Pursuit of Meaning in Today’s Connected World

Monday, May 23, 2016 Comment Group of London-based students in school uniform

Most adults reckon they know about children because they were one once. This is a strange kind of qualification. First of all, there is a tendency to universalize childhood as if the child you were once can stand for all children. Secondly, the childhood you experienced is for all its similarities to the ones being lived today, structurally, materially and existentially quite different. My colleague, Sonia Livingstone, and I spent a whole year with 28 13- and 14-year-olds trying to get a grip on what it means to grow up in London in the second decade of the

Using Tangible Technologies for Next-Generation Learning

Friday, November 25, 2011 Comment kids colorful learning building blocks in numerical order

Andrew Manches is a 2011-2012 Fellow at the London Knowledge Lab looking at how new forms of technology can support and help young children explore different number concepts. His work builds from his PhD at the University of Nottingham, which evaluated whether technology called tangibles, technology that is embedded inside physical learning materials, represented a great new potential for children in the early years (ages four to eight). Manches was one of 12 participants at the DML Research Associate Summer Institute 2011 hosted by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. According to his thesis, understanding the potential

How Can We Help Miguel?

Friday, April 08, 2011 Comment photo of man walking in alley and sun flare

One of the hardest parts of doing fieldwork is hearing difficult, nuanced stories that break my heart.  The more complicated the story, the harder it is to tell, but I feel a responsibility to at least try.  Given how many educational reformists read this blog, I want to provide a portrait of some of the teens I’ve met who are currently being failed by the system.  My goal in doing so is to ask a hard question: how do we help these specific teens?  Let me start with Miguel. Miguel is 17 and in the 10th

School, Work and Play: Decoding Digital Age Shifts

Friday, April 01, 2011 Comment man giving spoken word performance during DML

Learning with digital media is often articulated through an affective vocabulary of play, informality, enjoyment, and creativity, as opposed to the formality, standards and routines of conventional schooling. This difference in the language of learning corresponds with changing patterns in work. Employers now claim they want to hire more playful and creative recruits with portfolios of experience in social networking and online virtual worlds.  The 21st Century Workforce Mindset The links between schooling, culture, and employment are now changing as the growth of an “interactive economy” places new demands on youth both as potential consumers of

Happiness, Learning, and Technology: Why “Affective” Schools are the New “Effective” Schools

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Comment young boy with headphones playing kids computer game

What are the connections between emotional education and digital media and learning? Faced with a global economic recession, civic unrest, and major environmental catastrophe, governments around the world are now obsessed with cheering us all up, especially kids. Measures are being designed to gauge global, national, organizational and individual levels of happiness, and well-being is being put at the heart of public policy. Ensuring children’s happiness now and in the future is therefore becoming an urgent aim for education. The State of Happiness Schools are emotional places. Everyone remembers their school days through the rhythm of

On Parenting, Media, Education and Phobias

Monday, February 14, 2011 Comment kids sitting at table working on computer together

Modern cinema can teach us how youth and media are widely understood in our cultures. Cinema, like works of literature and visual art, can represent and diagnose our widespread fears and fantasies about young people and about how we, as cultures, bring them up. Back 150 years ago, for example, Charles Kingsley’s moral fable The Water-Babies challenged child labor. Today, the journal “International Research in Children’s Literature” publishes scholarly analyses of how children’s literature can both help in children’s growing up and impose on them social and moral codes from the dominant culture. Similarly, analyzing the

How Learning Spaces Reflect Our View of Children

Thursday, November 11, 2010 Comment kids sitting around learning space watching recording spoken word presentation

Many school buildings are in a terrible state. Even in seemingly advanced western nations many old schools resemble architectural catastrophes that, along with post-war urban tower blocks and the shopping malls of the 1950s, have largely been left to the crumble of rust. In the last few years, though, there has been a renaissance in school building design based on a reimagining of learning spaces (pdf) that has mirrored the advance in our understandings of education-oriented information and communication technologies (ICT). Yet as I pass my local school, currently being completely rebuilt to a high-tech spec, and

Bio-Politics, Video Games, and Kids’ Bodies

Monday, September 27, 2010 Comment kids playing video games at school fair

Some recent research findings have got me thinking a lot about Franz Kafka’s story about a young clerical worker who wakes up half-transformed into a giant insect. No, it’s not research from the new journal Horror Studies but something even more horrifying from pediatric research. Research published in the August issue of Pediatrics by psychologists from Iowa State University has suggested a causal link between playing video games and children developing Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study reported that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American