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Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Peter Principle

No, we don't have a new boss in Nuova Lazio High called Peter.  I'm referring to the idea put forward by Lawrence J Peters in his book on management practices, which states that every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.

We've got Ringo.  Ergo Sum

He sent me an email yesterday, regarding the netbook project he's working on.  As I mentioned in my previous post there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of using sensible computer-based learning and teaching techniques in education, but I honestly don't think we're ready, nor do we have the money.

But I'll say this for Ringo, he doesn't give up.  Apart from the lukewarm reception given to his ideas at the HOF meeting, the scheme's biggest weakness is Ringo's lack of technical knowledge.
He gets mixed up between laptops and netbooks
He casually refers to WiFi, but really means WLAN(wireless local area network)

Using a WLAN at the start
In the email he sent, he included a link to another NZ school who is running a limited WLAN, and he referred to "This sort of agreement".  Now we have two or three WLANs already in the school.  One in the staffroom, one in the workroom, and one down in our Social Studies block.  They're designed to allow teachers to use their laptops on the school network.  It works reasonably well, but the bandwidth isn't great, and the Systems Manager and I have great concerns over security.  Getting into a network requires that the computer using it is recognised by the network domain controller, and that various security protocols are established and password and network settings are correctly implemented.  WLANs are notoriously easy to hack into from outside.  So giving 30 of our little angels access to computers with the protocols set up gives us both the willies.
However, back to the email.  The link I mentioned before, took me to a page describing (quite well actually) how to set up a laptop computer on their school WLAN, no mention of a network agreement or any of the protocols we had been discussing.

Same person after using WLAN for just two weeks
Our Systems Manager (Carrot Head [CH]) and Ringo have visited a school (or two, I'm not sure) using netbooks (bought by the kids themselves, not an option in NLH), and discussed their usage with a very technical savvy Deputy Principle.  Listening to Ringo and CH  talk about their visit was enlightening.  Two very different stories.  CH described to me the problems the school was having with their netbooks (limited functionality, slow response time, saturated WLAN bandwidth, saturated external bandwidth, uncontrolled external apps and storage)  Ringo just talked about how cool it would be, how up to date it would be, how good it would make him look if it  was implemented.(no, I confess, I made that last bit up.  He never said that phrase.  I betcha he thought it though.

CH sent him a reply explaining basically that the information at the link was useless, just generic information.

But I don't think that Ringo grasps the basics.

Oh well, back to the grind.  Only 4 weeks or so left, and we've just been informed that as a measure of good faith, we're going to suspend the rolling action against our year 10s today.  Hope none of them realise that they're supposed to come to school today.

I think the PPTA is showing weakness, they should have intensified the action, not back down.  Refusal to mark NZQA exam papers would be a good start.


  1. No sending home! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I was counting on a quiet day!

  2. Is the suggestion that students bring their own laptops to school? If so:
    a) I can't imagine the number of issues that is going to bring up;
    b) Does that mean students will be able to sit around at lunchtime anywhere researching (copy and pasting) their assignments?

  3. Hi Nicola,
    no, I believe the intention is for the school to buy the netbooks as a class set, then to allow the kids access only during that class.

  4. There's a Ringo in every school and you just have to keep your fingers crossed that he's never the Head Teacher.

    Our local primary has got limited access to the intertubes - quite frustrating if you need to get access to a site and it's not listed on the Council's whiteboard of sites.

    On a slightly different tack, I noticed lots of my son's friends on Facebook (he's 10). When I explored further, I realised that their privacy and security awareness was non-existent and the combination of kids pretending to be older possibly coming into contact with adults pretending to be younger filled me with dread.

    Contacted the school and now they are running a Facebook Awareness night for kids and pupils up at the school in February :-)

    Ali x


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