Eleven schools in the Netherlands are planning to revolutionise their teaching methods by becoming completely iPad driven. The schools, due to begin opening from August this year, will cater for up to 1000 children, aged four to 12. These pupils will have no backpacks, books or notebooks, but instead each child will have their own iPad. If their parents can’t afford an iPad, they will receive a subsidy from a solidarity fund.
The website of the German newspaper Der Spiegel reports that, unlike other schools where iPad use is simply another tool in the teaching system, in these so-called ‘Steve Jobs’ schools, the Apple tablet will reign supreme.
“There will be no blackboards, chalk or classrooms, homeroom teachers, formal classes, lesson plans, seating charts, pens, teachers teaching from the front of the room, schedules, parent-teacher meetings, grades, recess bells, fixed school days and school vacations. If a child would rather play on his or her iPad instead of learning, it’ll be OK. And the children will choose what they wish to learn based on what they happen to be curious about,” says the website.
One of the schools preparing to join the experiment will be in Breda, a town near Rotterdam. The school’s principal, Gertjan Kleinpaste, is excited at the prospect, having recently worked at a school in which the entire faculty had to share just three computers. ”What we are doing will seem pretty normal in 2020,” he told Der Spiegel.
Maybe in 2020, but in 2013 the idea of a school that is open from 7.30am to 6.30pm, with children free to come and go as they please – provided they are in attendance during the core period of 10.30am to 3pm – is being seen as radical by some.
The Partij voor de Vriijheid (PVV or Party for Freedom), headed by infamous right wing politician Geert Wilders, is against the plans. The party would rather see “more structure” in the classroom, according to Der Spiegel.
But it is up against the formidable figure of Maurice de Hond, an Amsterdam public opinion researcher, who began his push for this educational rebellion two years ago.
“We are experiencing a revolution of little children,” says de Hond. “The movement has become unstoppable… I would be very disappointed if we didn’t have at least 40 Steve Jobs schools by August of next year.”
But it’s unlikely that the schools will be able to keep that chosen moniker, with Apple notoriously litigious when it comes to appropriation of its intellectual property or the name of its beloved former leader. De Hond claims he would just like to honour Jobs, but admits he hasn’t actually explained that to either Apple or Jobs’ widow as yet.