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 You are in: UK: Education: Christmas wishlist 1998  
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Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 07:48 GMT
Laptops for all
laptop computer
"Laptops have a huge advantage over larger desktop computers"
The General Secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, sets out his festive wish-list.

My request for Christmas this year is quite simple - a laptop computer for every schoolchild and teacher in Britain.

Laptops have a huge advantage over larger desktop computers. They can be used anywhere, anytime and can easily be carried around, even in a school bag.

We live in an information age and access to information is the gateway to knowledge. With laptops connected to the Internet (with suitable safeguards against access to undesirable material), pupils and teachers will be equipped for the future.

They will be able to link into software at school and at home - and in one day education in this country will have moved forward five years.

Teachers of English have found that children who were previously reluctant to commit pen to paper blossom with a laptop - drafting, redrafting, polishing, spellchecking - and take a pride in the final version of their work.

'Dry, textbook account'

Geography, history, science, religious education and all other subjects of the curriculum become more exciting when the computer screen can create access to limitless information and high quality images.

The dry, textbook account of the World War One, for example, comes alive when the printed word is complemented by moving pictures of battles and the spoken words of those involved.

For many children, this is already a reality, but, in the 21st century, this access to knowledge should be the right of all young people, not the privilege of a few who can afford it.

Children have been brought up in an age of videos and computers. They adapt naturally to this mode of learning. Teachers, educated in the age of the textbook, do not adapt so easily.

The government has started a programme for training teachers to use information technology better, but this will not succeed unless teachers have constant, easy access to computer hardware.

Only a laptop for each and every pupil and teacher will see a transformation in the classroom which will be regarded as a milestone in British education.

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