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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Friday, January 01, 2010

When Hard Work Hinders Advances

The world has always needed trailblazers. The "more tech in education" trailblazers, evangelists, or whatever you choose to call them appear to be burning out, changing their course of action, or at least need a deserved break. 

Will Richardson - grieves for the systemic lack of change
David Warlick - changing focus and vocabulary

There are many others whom we all know and read. Our work - hard work - may have been the reason change did not occur. That's a sobering thought. How many arguments did the edubloggers have over tech tools throughout the past decade? We still bicker over the best operating systems, though perhaps in good humor among us, it is humor not understood by teachers who don't care about the OS, just that they can read their email.

Ewan McIntosh writes a brief thought to start the year.  I love the title - 2010: The system's not changing fast enough and it no longer matters.  I imagine Bill Murray in Meatballs - "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!"  So perhaps we should lighten up a bit.

McIntosh says what I resigned myself to believe a couple years ago. Change is going to happen, because it doesn't need that much help. It may not happen how we want it to, or when we want it to, or where we want it to; but it will happen because it is happening.

Our approach to getting technology more ubiquitous in schools was a battle that we fought poorly.  We talked about the tools, what they could do. Our focus was misplaced.

It is not that what we did was wrong; it probably allowed us to come back to what really matters in our field - learning, and knowing why the learning is important for the world. Our focus on the technology was a diversion to what is necessary for our next generation. BUT, it did help most of us come to develop a better philosophy of education. The technology is what we LEARNED, so we were excited about it and wanted to share it with everyone - but most others were not that interested.

We alienated the overwhelming majority of teachers.  They looked at us as tech people, not teachers (or "teacher-learners" for D. Warlick).  They saw us as people who were trying to "add just one more thing" to the tasks of the teacher.  So they tuned us out. I don't blame them.

We tried to do the work that did not need to be done.  The students will usher in the use of technology, as they always have.  I said at the end of my tech evangelism phase (sometime in 2007) that just as TVs are a part of most classrooms today, SmartPhones (of all kinds) will be the norm as the next generation of teachers fill our classrooms. Again, I remember as a student the rejection, deference, and animosity toward bringing a TV/VCR into the classroom. "TV is not an educational tool!"  Now they sit in most rooms and are in the way. We laugh at (or even forget) the notion that TVs were rejected by educators in the 1980s.

Soon, the conversations of "should teachers 'friend' student on Facebook/Twitter/MySpace/etc." will be laughed at as well; as the climate demands it instead of debates it.

So, as I begin the 2010 (pronounced twenty-ten), I am getting back to the basics of life. 

Teaching is about building relationships with students, allowing them to trust that I care about them, that I am there to help them succeed in whatever THEY choose to do with their life. 

Part of my job is to help them choose things that are morally upright, ethically appreciated, and something that will help them experience some form of pride and satisfaction that their life was worth the living.

I hope to do even more for some students; to lead them to know that happiness in life is not about what you get, but what you are able to give. I want these students to know that others in the world struggle, suffer, and surrender at the hands of evil - and that one person can make a difference for them, perhaps it will be one of my students who can make that difference.

I will be present in the lives of my students, as long as they want me to be. If that means in the classroom, at a ballgame, in the mall, at their house with their family, or on Facebook/Twitter/et. al., then I'll be there for them.

Teaching is important to me.  It does not end when the bell rings, when the school year ends, when the students graduate. Teaching ends when the student decides. Some students decide your teaching ends after the first week in your class.  Other students continue to ask questions long after they achieve their graduate degrees.

The more technological the world becomes, the more human we must become.

Posted via email from Murry's World

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