Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 92  June 12th 2004 ­  Life After Apple 1 to 1




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy

3. WWWinfo - Wikipedia

4. New Printables -  Life after Apple 1 to 1 Conference

5. Technical Stuff ­ Conferences

6. Web Site Focus ­ Life After Apple 1 to 1 Conference

7. Photography

8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE. The recent Apple conference was a

knock out.  I have written at length below about some aspects

conference, more will follow in subsequent newsletters.

It¹s a lenglthy piece ­ let me know what you think.



 The best substitute for experience is being sixteen. 

~Raymond Duncan


³How can we make the magic persist.²


 ³Magic is hard. You need books, to learn programs, to go to

conferences, to ask questions.

It¹s absolutely worth it.²


I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the

learner takes charge... ,(p. 25)

Seymour Papert (1993). The children's machine: Rethinking

schools in the age of the computer. New York: Basic Books.


Papert (1993) "Children seem to be innately gifted learners,

acquiring long before they go to school a vast quantity of knowledge

by a process I call "Piagetian learning," or "learning without

being taught."


3. WWWinfo

³Wikipedia is a copyleft encyclopedia that is collaboratively

developed. Wikipedia is free content under the GNU Free

Documentation License, meaning that it may be freely used,

freely edited, and is free to copy and redistribute.


4. NEW PRINTABLES The article below is available to printout





14-16th July

Edith Cowan University Perth

ITSC is regarded as Australia¹s premiere Œhands-on¹ education and

technology conference. this unique event focuses on supporting

the creative, innovative and collaborative uses of technology in the

learning & teaching environment.



AND LEARNING THROUGH ICT, 30 July 2004 limited is pleased to announce the dates for its

next major national event -  the National Seminar:

Transforming Teaching and Learning through ICT.

This premier event for education leaders and decision makers

will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, NSW, on Friday

30 July 2004 from 10 am to 2 pm.

The key theme and focus of this seminar is research about,

and innovative application of, information and communications

technologies [ICT] in teaching and learning.

Keynote speaker is Professor David Hargreaves, Chairman

of the British Educational Communications and Technology

Agency (BeCTA) and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. 

Professor Hargreaves is one of the world's leading thinkers

and researchers in the use of ICT for teaching and learning

and is The National Seminar has been proudly

sponsored by Macromedia Inc.


Friday, 30 July 2004

10 am to 2 pm

Shangri-La Hotel

176 Cumberland Street

The Rocks

Sydney, NSW, Australia


$110.00 AUD [including GST]

This includes seminar materials, coffee and tea on arrival,

morning tea and lunch.


6. WEBSITE FOCUS - Afflicted by We, I, Us Me conundrum

­ a personal as well as collegiate experience.


Life After the Apple 1 to 1 Notebook Conference


The upshot of the Apple 1 to 1 Notebook Conference was

that I had a lot of big ideas raging around in my head, some

about the future, some about now, some seemingly

diametrically apposed.


The conference challenged current views on education,

challenged current educational thinking, confirmed and supported

many of my ideas but also challenged me to think beyond the

constraints of my current situation, which I had come to accept

and had developed many Œwork-a-rounds². Challenged me to

think about curriculum, beyond the specific criticism of things

like, ³Why do we teach fraction manipulation in Primary

school?² it challenged me to looking again at the broader

picture, the whole forest.


Seymour Papert was amazing to hear, the author of ³Mind Storms²,

a book I read in the early eighties, the man who was instrumental

 in the development of the Lego Robotics, who said in 1965 that

every child should have a computer, Seymour Papert saw

computers as a way to liberate children, to learn about their

own minds, to see mistakes as Œjust bugs¹, who played a major

role in the Maine initiative to provide every middle and high school

student with a laptop computer.  I heard him speak, and he did

not disappoint. 


Here is a man who has pursued his interests in education and

technology with a passion, he exemplifies the philosophy he

espouses, he thinks deeply about the implications of education,

thinking and technology, on students and future students. 

One could almost hear his mind ticking over as he answered

each question during discussions at the conference. These

were no glib cliché answers but deeply thought considered

responses that provoked the listener to further thought. 

I guess I envied him the opportunity to be able to live a life

concentrating on thinking and discussing these big ideas.

To have the time available to leap from the overwhelming

amount of mundane, routine dross that accompanies teaching

and modern living and actually indulge in some sustained

intellectual thought and discussion, what a luxury. More luxury I say.


One of the big ideas he brought to the table centred on the

invidious curriculum content debate.  You know the ³ Why

do we teach fractions?, Why do we teach this and that?²

Very pertinent really, student teachers are asked to find

resources for teaching fractions, and information on how to

teach fractions, even the history of fractions, but never, why

do we teach fractions? Because ­ as Seymour put it, there is

very little literature at all on this topic, because the discussion

of what should be included in the curriculum has some how

been taken off the agenda, because we are so busy trying to

teach the curriculum that we are not discussing the really

important questions of what should be IN the curriculum.

And this is really where the discussion should be.


Then with ease and simplicity Seymour gave us a framework

to discuss this issue.  An interesting simple but intriguing

framework, laced with historical anecdotes from his Latin

learning student days. Yes LATIN, a dead language taught

to enhance thinking skills, logic and understanding of English

grammar etc. It¹s not of much use in itself, it just helps you

do other things. This Seymour called ŒLatinesque Knowledge¹,

non essential learning, that has value, maybe interesting or

not, but has no direct use. Of course ŒDriveresque Knowledge¹

is the knowledge that is essential to know, to survive on the

planet ­ his example: you need to know what a STOP sign

means otherwise you will be killed.


So here it is a framework for discussion, and I know exactly

where the fractions and that peculiar thing with Cosines go.

So what do we want for our kids, we want them to learn the

³Driveresque Knowledge², and to be able to choose the

ŒLatinesque² stuff according to their interests, to be introduced

to the Big Ideas, and not be bogged down by the dross. 

We will need to define the ³Driveresque Knowledge², and this

will take a great deal of debate and discussion, BUT,

curriculum certainly MUST be on the agenda again. Bring it on.


There was a sense of empowerment at the conference,

a sense that the participants all had part of the picture,

maybe we couldn¹t see the whole picture, but we had an

idea where we were going, and ways to think about the

journey and perhaps, together, thinking and working together,

all these people at the conference could start to make a

difference, could start changing the way we teach and students

learn, deeply and permanently.


The Conference was an Apple Conference*, and Seymour,

was there basically to promote the idea of one to one, a

computer/laptop for each student, this was by no means the

end game though. As far as Seymour was concerned it was

just the beginning, after students had their own computer the

hardwork would start, the hardwork of inventing the new

Œcurriculum¹,  of finding out how to use these new tools.

Seymour himself is working on a new maths syllabus,

starting with Œbig ideas¹ and mathematical thinking.

Believing that the current mathematics syllabus has

been constrained by the implements of trade to date

­ the pencil and paper, the new maths will be based

on the technology now available to students.  And some

stunning technology there is to be sure.


Based on the idea that predicting the future is notoriously

tricky, the 2 things that can be said about the future, is that

thinking and technology will be important. How can we say

that?  Looking at trends in computer development one can

reasonably assume that computers will become smaller and

more pervasive.  Also it would appear that, although

computers may be able take over many of the routine tasks

for us, original Œthinking¹, is beyond them, and will be beyond

them for the foreseeable future, computers currently have the

intelligence of an earthworm, great uncomplaining slaves if you

like, doing the dross work.  Future curriculum needs as its basic

skills, thinking and technology.


The conference was littered with seemingly unassailable one

or 2 liners that prodded and poked me to thought like:-


³You don¹t need to budget for PD, in a professional environment

Professionals develop.²


³How can we make the magic persist.²

³Magic is hard. You need books, to learn programs, to go to

conferences, to ask questions.

It¹s absolutely worth it.²

³If we love children and we know what¹s possible how can we

do anything else.²

³How does a school that has seen the magic turn it¹s back on it.²


³What is knowledge? How do you know it¹s right?¹ Wikipedia

³Wikipedia ( is a copyleft encyclopedia that

 is collaboratively developed. Wikipedia is free content under the

GNU Free Documentation License, meaning that it may be freely

used, freely edited, and is free to copy and redistribute.

The content of Wikipedia is entirely created by its users.

No single person owns the content; no article is ever finished.


Computers have the power to make a similar transformation to

when writing began. (³The invention of script (in the late fourth

millennium BC) marks a quantum leap forward in human cultural

development. Time and space cease to be barriers to the

transmission of knowledge and information. To grasp the

magnitude of this advance, try to imagine our culture today

without writing (for even today's visual media and high technology communications usually depend on written drafts and scripts).

It is impossible to imagine our schools and universities teaching,

our scientists conducting and reporting research, our government

governing or our civil service functioning without the written word.² )

The invention of writing didn¹t make much of a difference to

the 0-5 year old however computers can.


³School is a complex system, with inherent inertia, unless you make a big enough change it won¹t stick. ³

³Changes need to go deep enough to change the culture of a school.²


³Why School Reform is Impossible?² Seymour Papert Article.

Breaking down fragmentation of the day.

Breaking down discipline structure.

Scrap the Curriculum.


³Nuremberg excuse ­ We¹re just doing what we¹re told.²


I found my responses to these types of jibes, all passionate

ranging from anger, to distress, eagerness, ecstasy, excitement,

fervor, indignation, joy, misery, and to zeal.(these are all synonyms for passionate actually). And I had them all at the conference.


The real kicker for me was:-

³You don¹t need to budget for PD, in a professional environment

Professionals develop.²

I was angry, what does this mean?? No more PD?? But teachers

need it. What have I been doing trying to provide PD? Of course

­ it provokes thought, of course it is true, in a professional environment professionals develop, but how we go about creating this professional environment where folk have access to knowledge, ideas and

technology, with time to learn and grow, without the weight of the

dross work weighing so heavily on their shoulders that they have

time for the ŒLuxury¹ of thinking beyond the next lesson, report, test,

compulsory departmental survey, playground duty etc.  In a

professional environment there needs to be time for reflection,

growth and development as well as the business of the day.

Opportunities to attend great conferences like this one, to hear

the best educational thinkers, to be guided by folk with expertise,

to have access to educational resources and studies and the

time to discuss and think about them. So here is where the

discussion starts ­ How do we set up a professional learning

environment for both teachers and students at our schools?

Anger turns to excitement to power to action. Yes I/we can

make a difference. I/We can have the ŒLuxury¹ of intellectual

thought at a school level, we have the power to change the

school environment ourselves.


I guess that¹s what this conference was all about, prodding us

to think about the big ideas, to see the forest not just the trees,

to rekindle the passion, to connect passionate educators, and

turn that passion into action. Thinking about the future, the sort

of schools and working, learning and teaching environments we

want to have and planning to make changes so that this can

happen.  We can all sit back and die by random increment in

schools where we remain passive using the

³Nuremberg excuse ­ We were just following orders²,

or we can do something about it.  We can ³indulge in the

 luxury of some sustained intellectual thought and discussion²

in each and every school, if we are proactive. Perhaps I no

longer need to envy Seymour.


I sit here on my Apple G4 Laptop, my ³imagination machine²

and type, using Internet resources and references which litter

my writing and I am empowered, passionately empowered to

make a change. ³The computer is² the  ³instrument that is

music to² my ³ideas² Alan Kay


*This was an Apple Conference ­ I take my hat off to them. 

It was brilliant.  Sure they¹re here to sell computers but their

commitment to education goes way beyond just selling boxes. 

They offer a total solution for schools, each individual school,

ongoing training, technical as well as professional support. 

Not just a box, a whole school solution.  They are committed

to the continual development of product suitable for educational

usage. Look at their site, they are always in development of

the next great idea.  No other hardware company offers the

whole package.  Their computers and network systems are

designed to required minimal technical support, they are

virtually virus free, because they operate with a robust Unix

based OS.  The old argument about price no longer applies,

in most cases Apples are cheaper, faster, better, lighter than

their opposition. Look at the websites, look at


or Optima

or HP

then look at Apple

No contest.


7.Science of Photography

Nature of Light

The image and the Eye

Photo History

How Cameras work

Photographers through time




MicroWorlds provides an open-ended programming environment

in which students can explore, create and apply prior knowledge,

while participating in a rich, authentic and meaningful learning



Adventures of the Agronauts

Adventures of the Agronauts is an online science curriculum for

elementary-aged students with an overarching theme: how can we grow

plants on the Moon? Children become "Agronauts in Training" and complete

six different standards-based lessons towards the final goal of growing

plants on the Moon.



Hi Cathy,

We have taken our child out of school and we are home schooling him--its

great that we are able to do this! I am writing re the comments re teachers

below and I agree that we should support them and I agree about the raffles

, working bees etc etc...

But there is also a reality that a lot of teachers have become too wrapped

up in the safety blanket of their doona and their strong union that they

have become complacent and lazy! The amount of parents who are dissatisfied

with the education their children are getting in the town we live in would

astound you; parents who cloth their kids , pack lunches, buy raffle

tickets, get to working bees, leave their children in care of so called

professionals to get a education and pay taxes are told that the children do

not get enough attention at home when the child fails a test or can't grasp

work { which is at a very alarming rate}----and all in every class from

kindy to grade six with 20 to 22 pupils in each class at most!!!!!!!! Makes

any one with a ounce of grey matter wonder ,doesn't it!!


ps--and the politicians just gave themselves a $61 a week pay



Hi, Cathy,

It's been a while since I've written, yet you should know your VT

newsletter is still a most welcome addition to my mailbox.


Your "Welcome" notes in the current issue really hit home.  

What you've written about teachers' salaries, and the need

to enhance them to attract the best, is ever so true.  In addition,

I've discovered another area in need of 'adjustment'. That would be administrative support of current and qualified teachers.  

This is another realm, which must not only be considered,

 it requires a drastic change.


I network with many teachers and alternative educators

throughout the U.S.  What I'm discovering is no matter

where one works the difficulties faced are remarkably similar

and demoralizing.  There appear to be few solutions to

problematic issues teachers confront daily.  We are often

caught in a sticky web of adversity that includes inappropriate

student behavior, parental enabling or lack of involvement,

and little to no administrative subsidy. This can, and many

times does, lead to low morale throughout the faculty.


It would be interesting to hear what others have to say

about this issue and those you've already noted.  More I

mportantly, it would be effective to brainstorm positive

approaches others have found to be successful.  If solutions

are not discovered and applied, we will surely find ourselves

in that cold winter of education.



Nancy S-G         


Hello Cathy

I really support your opening comments. Well done!




From: "Williams, Edda

An Australian ICT newsletter! WOW!


Thanks for the great newsletters.

Can I ask you to re-post the last one to me please. I

accidently deleted it while using the links (got carried

away closing windows!)

Once again many thanks for the ideas and various

websites that you put into the newsletter.




Glad you like it Jeff ­ now let¹s make it even better with more

great ideas from everyone out there.  let¹s join forces and

make a difference.


Just a little note to thank you for all your work. Just turned 56

this month and need all the help I can get.  I could spend

the whole day following all these links...............but

I really must do the ironing/cleaning................maybe a bit later....................................

Thanks so much,

Kath Comber - Kindy teacher from Perth WA

who loves her job and has never earned over $50000

before so feels very blessed indeed!

Kevin & Kathleen Comber


10.  NEXT ISSUE ­ There¹ll be more thoughts from the Conference

­ The Man from Maine and other interesting moments.

Thanks everyone who wrote about the current state of affairs

in teaching. Please keep writing.


11. Code of the 'Netizens'

This Newsletter is not free, despite the misleading advertising

above. The Fee is now due. Each week you must help one

colleague on the Internet who has less knowledge than you.

Help that person even if you have to visit their classroom or

do a little research and get back to them. Trust me, this will

help a lot of people get their computer classrooms running better.

OK I'm trusting you!!!


12. TIPS

1. Double click on highlighted URLS to open in browser.

2. Send in your Questions, Questions will be published with

Answers, send in your Answers, if you have expertise to share.

3. Nominate a brilliant site for review and inclusion in this


4. Nominate a fantastic school site for review and inclusion in

this newsletter.

5. Make contact with other schools using fantastic programs.

6. Prepare and innovative article for this newsletter.

7. Tell 2 colleagues about this newsletter.


The opinions expressed here are purely those of the editor,

Cathy Brown. All other small print clauses apply. Such as:

Use at your  own risk. Nothing in life is guaranteed. If it doesn't

work for you send me an email.

Editor: cathy brown


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