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Editorial April 2024

EDITORIAL, April 2024

Good ideas revisited

Conversations about education these days are dominated by the need for change. In many ways this is absolutely right – everything moves on. Emerging technologies can shoulder some of the load for teachers – fantastic. The environment in which children are growing up is being transformed and we need to respond to changing needs. Quite right.

However, are all the ideas that have been around for some time necessarily outdated and irrelevant as we move into the second quarter of the 21st Century? I don’t think so.

In this April’s edition of ITM Richard Human looks back to 1996 and a school expedition to climb Mt. Kenya. The trip was transformative for all participants as they got to know each other outside of the classroom and did something difficult together. I strongly suspect that 2024 expeditions will all have a similar effect.

Old ideas justified by new research are also interesting. As Smita Bannerjee argues, making handwritten notes with pen and paper is just as good for you today as it has ever been, and now there is the research to demonstrate a positive cognitive effect.

Which brings me to Michael Ter-Berg. It has long been good practice to rule out simple explanations for any possible cognitive difficulties. Always, always, always get hearing and vision checked first if something seems wrong. If possible, screen children regularly so that kids with emerging hearing or vision issues can be referred for a full diagnosis conducted by a specialist quickly. But regular screening is easier said than done, especially, perhaps, in international schools. You know the problems.

Which is why Michael Ter-Berg’s article is my favourite example of a ‘good idea revisited’ for a long time. It has always been a ‘good idea’ to screen for sight and vision if you could. But it has never been easy. What I love about the approach first developed by the researchers at City, University of London, is that it connects an old idea about screening with a new approach made possible by innovative R & D. In this case old and new thinking are combined to make larger scale screening for sight and vision issues possible without schools bringing in very busy clinical specialists. As a result most schools can now screen for vision and hearing difficulties for themselves.

Now – that’s the kind of good idea revisited (and improved!) that I really like and I have no doubt that there are lots of other, older, good ideas out there just waiting to go further with a little bit of help from new technology.

Andy Homden 

Editor, International Teacher Magazine