Teaching 'out of touch with technology'

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The Independent Online
SCHOOLS and universities are losing touch with the outside world and failing to prepare students for today's technological society, according to Sir Douglas Hague, former economics adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

In a pamphlet entitled Transforming the Dinosaurs, he argues that one or two Oxbridge colleges should be closed each year and only reopened three years later with a fresh staff, none of whom should have taught at Oxford or Cambridge before.

Every school teacher should be required to work in one or two non-school jobs, preferably in the private sector, before the age of 40. And despite the recent and highly popular transformation of polytechnics into universities, Sir Douglas recommends that at least half Britain's universities should be reconverted to polytechnics providing training in science, engineering and business, 'to ensure that enough students are usefully trained for real-world jobs'.

Sir Douglas, a director of the training group CRT, lambasts schools and universities for their failure to make sufficient use of information technology. He accuses them of putting too much emphasis on teaching rather than learning, so that pupils do not develop the ability to innovate.

In the face of concern about large classes, Sir Douglas argues in favour of fewer teachers: 'The education system should be working hard to wean students away from reliance on teachers and towards books and electronic databases. Chalk and talk still play too big a part . . . This is a time when at least some of what teachers do needs to be replaced by information and communications technology.'

Sir Douglas attacks the Department for Education for imposing excessive form-filling on teachers. 'The culture of the DFE has not come to terms with the information and communications revolution,' he says.

Transforming the Dinosaurs; Demos; 120 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1GZ; pounds 5.95.