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Is Twitter here to stay?

March 25, 2009

Once again the primary school curriculum has had a shake up. I have no objection to the Victorians becoming an optional subject and as someone who studied Nazi Germany three times at school,  it would seem a good idea to allow teachers to choose their own topics. It might mean a few more children grow up knowing what happened between 1640 and 1914.

And I am not going to bemoan the matching in importance of typing with handwriting, (although I’m not quite sure why they need lessons  in how to use a spell-checker…)

But a specific curriculum objective in understanding Twitter? Wasn’t Yahoo quite big when today’s 11-year-olds were in year 3? And chat rooms?

While many teachers are no doubt groaning in horror at having to get to grips with the concept of tweeting and twhirl (though probably not those who have just come to this post via my memonote), I’m sure many nine-year-olds are happily updating their feeds. If not now, in six months they will be.

But in six years, when the current year 3 are all of 13? Anyone in a position to suggest the teaching of Twitter should surely recognise that it is likely to be replaced by another form of communication before long. If not, then I would suggest the idea is not much more than a gimmick designed to give the impression of forward-thinking.

I always thought the point of primary education was to provide the basic understanding of principles and concepts on which more specialist knowledge could be built. Of course this includes IT, the internet and social networking tools in a broad capacity, but to specify learning something likely to be so transient as Twitter seems to miss the point.

At a round table event at City University on Monday, online journalism experts, including The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss and the BBC’s Pete Clifton, all agreed Twitter will be replaced by something else as soon as it becomes completely mainstream. It has been the case with blogs and chatrooms, search engines and to an extent, myspace, which has been overtaken by the more popular facebook. Why should Twitter, a very simple concept with easy-to-copy technology be any different?

To suggest that Twitter is here to stay shows a short-sightedness only to be found among politicians.

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