'Facebook generation' of teachers must be promoted

Only the young can engage with techno-savvy pupils, says expert

The "Facebook Generation" of young teachers should be appointed to top school posts to help pupils switch back on to learning, a former senior government adviser has said.

Twenty-somethings who have just started teaching represent the best chance of engaging today's pupils with school, said Professor David Hargreaves, a researcher with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and former head of the Government's exams watchdog.

Schools had to recognise that older heads and senior management had little understanding of "Generation Y" – people in their teens and twenties who were brought up with the internet. "The central problem of our time is not standards. It is actually about getting kids to engage with learning."

Professor Hargreaves was giving the last of a series of lectures staged by the Learning Skills Foundation and sponsored by The Independent.

He said schools had to give priority to creativity and innovation. Younger generations were "highly motivated" by the internet and became emotionally involved in activities online, but in the traditional classroom format, their motivation to learn was "variable".

Older teachers "don't know much about Facebook and don't know much about where young people spend their time," Professor Hargreaves said. "Generation Y teachers and students should be given opportunities in schools for extensive innovation. You should think about the promotion to leadership of 'Generation Y' teachers to do this work."

The best role that older teachers could adopt was to warn pupils to be careful about what they say on the internet. "Something said in private would be forgotten soon after but once their thoughts are on the web, they're there for ever."

Professor Hargreaves was supported in his lecture by Andrew Luxton, a teacher at priory Community school in Weston-super-Mare, north Somerset. He told how his school held "Twitter plenaries" in which pupils were asked to sum up the lesson using 140 characters.

"This is sent as a Tweet so that all those who subscribe can log on and get a collection of lesson summaries to help reinforce their learning. Reminders of exams, deadlines and useful hints can also be sent.

"Given that Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, wikis, forums and blogs are free to use, given that they teach valuable skills of communication, collaboration and co-construction, and given that their use is natural to and already employed outside of the classroom by our students, now is the time that they should be used for education where appropriate." Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, responded to Professor Hargreave's comments: "We do use technology to promote learning but ... the qualities needed for leadership are more than being in touch with the younger generation."

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said: "It is really important for schools to involve these young staff in the decisions they're making."

Younger teachers are more likely to be promoted in the next few years as the influx of teachers who qualified in the late 1960s and early 1970s approaches retirement.

Youth: Karis Arnold, 25, Music teacher, Essex

Pupils love using technology. We're encouraged to use it in lessons because it works. Leaving work for students to complete online so they can do it anywhere with internet access not only more readily engages them to do it but also makes it easier for me to mark.

Pupils enjoy emailing, using Powerpoint and interactive whiteboards and it's very important to make their education as much fun as you can.

The teachers that don't engage with these things tend to be the older ones, but it's not a hard-and-fast rule – technology only plays a part. There's still no replacement for enthusiasm, good assessment skills, creative lesson plans and setting challenging work.

I might be part of the "Facebook generation" but I'm not sure as it's wise to be "friends" with your pupils.

Experience: Barry Wellington, 57, History teacher, east London

In their private lives children have an unbelievable appetite for Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and other forms of communication. It is important that in school they're exposed to something different.

As a teacher you need a large vocabulary, an ability to broaden your pupil's language skills through your own. You need to enable them to engage with people in that way, not via a screen or a gadget. Most interaction in life is, after all, still face to face.

If you're enthusiastic and have a command of your subject, you don't need technology. You just need to have a relationship with your pupils, to engage with them, and be interested in them as people, and how they develop. Teachers of different ages and different types have different skills, and they all have a place – children like variety.

Twitter sounds impressive because it's up to the moment and catchy, but it's not the only way.

I was in my 20s once, too. What will happen to these 20-year-olds when they're in their 40s and 50s and new technology comes along? Will they be squeezed out?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power