This is another post prompted by something written by Bill Ferriter at The Tempered Radical. He writes a “rant…I’m tired of the combustable combination of whiny teachers and ineffective policymakers.”
In his post, he complains about his colleagues who make excuses for not embracing technology and takes on policymakers who don’t make time available for teachers to become familiar and comfortable with using technology in the classroom.
The first part of his post sounds the all-too-familiar note heard in the education blogosphere lamenting the fact that other teachers just don’t get why they should be integrating tech in their professional practice. This complaint is so common, in fact, it’s a partial reason I’ve lopped off a number of blogs from my RSS Reader and leave it to reading blogs like Alice Mercer’s to let me know when there are some other good posts out there that I’m missing.
However, Bill’s post differs from so many others by criticizing policymakers as well. This insight is indicative of why I continue to subscribe to The Tempered Radical.
I am concerned, though, about the first part of his “rant.” (his word, not mine). Though I use technology a fair amount in my teaching practice, readers of In Practice know that I continue to be wary of its misuse. So I’m not that exercised about teachers not being eager to embrace technology. I’m much more focused on agitating my colleagues to engage their students in higher-order thinking activities and learning by doing — both which I think can be done in many ways just as well without technology as with it.
I think that some who complain about other teachers not embracing technology might want to reflect more on the kinds of conversations they’re having with their colleagues. During my nineteen-year community organizing career prior to becoming a teacher, when I was not being particularly effective at getting someone engaged I just figured I was not being good at getting at their self-interest.
Even before I became a community organizer, I was a member of the Catholic Worker Movement for several years. The CW is a loosely knit group of communities around the country that sponsor soup kitchens and emergency shelters, and combine that with work for social change.
One day I was out sweeping our front porch, being careful not to disturb a number of Skid Row residents who were laying there passed-out. A police car pulled-up, and the officer began to yell at me for not being able to control all of our guests and they were bothering our neighbors. In the middle of all this, one of the men who had been sleeping pulled himself up by the stairway railing and shouted back at the patrolman, “Officer, Larry tries. He tries hard. We just don’t listen to him!”
In addition to going after policymakers, it might be good for those who want their colleagues to embrace technology to re-think how they are approaching them. If not, they might continue to be saying the “right” things, but few might be willing to listen.