One of the few delights of teaching a subject like I.T is that I can tinker about with my computer and incorporate any knowledge I glean (from my adventures) into the content of my lessons.
Using newsgroups is a case in point.
Now that I’ve left AOL (hooray!), I’m just like everyone else around, in that I use Outlook Express as my main email client. I’ve set up accounts for Dana and myself and even gone as far as re-directing my hotmail emails into the very same program.
So far so good.
Yesterday, I decided to explore the topic of newsgroups, keeping in mind that I need to teach my Year 13s what they are, how they work and most importantly, how to set them up. I started my journey of knowledge by subscribing to a few groups (two about The Beatles and another for Paul Simon fans). I downloaded the messages therein, got rid of the 1000+ postings and decided to start receiving all messages anew.
The folders remained empty for a while and then slowly, a trickle of postings started to come through. I diligently read each one, replied to any that I felt I could comment on and in the process, ended up making a new acquaintance in Paris of all places (one of the offshoots of newsgroups that I hadn’t previously considered).
One of the Paul Simon postings referred to someone looking for a “torrent” - a computing term that I’d come across but never really understood. I decided to investigate some more and entered the rather fascinating and new world of Bit Torrents, which I won’t explain right now but if you are interested, you can find out more by clicking here.
So, in one short session, I had discovered two new topics to teach my class and since their unit is all about the internet, I had unwittingly stumbled across some very useful lesson resources.
Fortunately, this class is one of the few who, as a whole, express an interest in learning. It’s just a shame that they need to reach the age of 17 to appreciate that the hours I put into my lesson planning are purely for their benefit….and thinking about it, mine too.
Now that I’m on a break, I can re-assess what it is that I really enjoy about teaching. In saying that, one area that I really get a real buzz out of, is developing my own subject knowledge. The teaching profession is currently pushing the notion of teachers as learners. As you can see from the above, I’m fully in agreement with this idea.
The minute we teachers stop being students, is the time when we need to hang our hats on the wall, lock our classrooms for the very last time and leave this challenging but ultimately worthwhile profession.