Friday, January 11, 2008

Thanks for nothing (rant warning)

I've been mulling over the reaction of some of my teacher acquaintances to the idea of using tech tools - particularly social media - as an integral part of their practice. Of course, if you're a teacher reading this, you probably already doing that. The people who react in the way I'm speaking of aren't reading this. In fact, many of them are still unsure what a blog is.

That's fine.

I'm not criticising ignorance. A person cannot control what they don't know if they don't know that they don't know it (if you follow me!). What bothers me more is stubbornness. The "Don't bother me with all that stuff" approach that says "this method of teaching was good enough when I was at school, and it's been good enough for hundreds of years." It's like sticking your fingers in your ears and going "lalalala".

What I'm thinking about is the extent to which the way we are taught at school informs our views on learning for the rest of our lives. It's one thing if you leave school and become a learning geek like yours truly, whose entire life revolves around lifelong, lifewide learning. For someone who becomes a nurse/chef/engineer/whatever, to whom CPD learning is going to form an important part of the job, but one that they have to find the time to squeeze in, while getting on with their real job, their ideas on learning are probably held on some unconscious level, and will, on dissection, very likely look rather like their schooldays.

So, to all those teachers who are refusing to engage with ICT in teaching and learning, who maintain that the read/write web has nothing to do with them, who are not actually reading this blog... gee thanks!

Thanks for the guy who controls the budget and requisitions the learning solutions but wants the learning to look "like this" or "just so", with lots of back and next buttons and endless content dumps. Thanks for all those workers who suffer from total inertia when it comes to taking the wheel on their own learning journey. Thanks for all those people who feel that their professional development is someone else's responsibility.

I know I'm overstating the case - it's deliberate. I'm not having a pop at teachers per se. I know that they often get a pretty raw deal, and are often expected to shoulder responsibilities that should be handled at home. But I do feel that too many of us who have responsibility towards children and teenagers are in danger of abdicating our roles and neglecting our duty of care.

When we were expecting our first child, someone told us, "Parenting is hard work... if you do it properly, and the better you do it, the harder it is." Sometimes it's easier just to do a thing yourself than to keep on at your kids to do it, or to deal with the mess that results from their doing it. But what good is that to the child? So sometimes we have to put ourselves out. Sometimes we have to move out of our comfort zones. Sometimes we have to deal with mess. There's no margin for "can't be bothered" when it comes to equipping our kids for the future.

Okay - I'll get off my soapbox now!


Anonymous said...

As I implied on Seb's blog, why should teachers use technology when they can get perfectly good (if not excellent) "results" without it. By results I mean the things that they are being measured on - SATs especially.

Until the underlying system changes so teachers cannot do their job without taking advantage of the technologies we won't reach the majority of the teaching profession.

Anonymous said...

Mark: as ever, you make an excellent point.

Jane Bozarth said...

It's not just teachers. I deal with this with workplace trainers all the time and just have this to say:

"Trainers won't be replaced by technology. They'll be replaced by trainers who are willing to use technology."