Grumpy Old Men (and Women) - An exercise in Satire

One of my Dad's favorite movies, Walter Matheau and Jack Lemon (right to left) pictured above gave him a chuckle every time. Today, esteemed colleague Tim Holt seeks to get our blood up arguing about something that we really don't have any control over--the affection of school leadership for programs thrust into schools without a by-your-leave. Should we embrace inadequate course management systems, casting aside what works better, simply because "Mama Government" thinks that's the best solution?

In America, we come from pioneer stock. Our ancestors explored, conquered, and civilized a continent one wagon train and settlement at a time. They crossed hundreds of miles of hostile territory, risked starvation, murder by Indians, and dying alone in the wilderness to try to carve out a decent living for their families. That same ferociously independent spirit was what inspired our ancestors to throw off Britian's shackles and forge America into the greatest economic and military power the world has ever seen.
These accomplishments were because of the decency, work ethic, and self-reliance of the American people, not because of the greatness of our leadership in Washington, D.C. The Founding Fathers understood that, which was why they considered government to be a necessary evil that was to be hemmed in, contained, and bound at every opportunity. (Read Source)
Self-reliant, decent school districts have worked hard to implement course management systems--like Moodle--that make things better in their K-12 learning environments, rather than wait for Mama Government to rescue them. Tim suggests that self-reliance is wrong, that such a work ethic is the result of simple grumpiness.

Like some flawed Texas version of Grumpy Old Men, Tim Holt suggests that technology directors who are continuing to use Moodle over a state-funded course management system are doing so simply because they are, well, grumpy. In a comment on my original post, Tim writes the following:
To me, the real sin is after the state purchases something, people decide not to use it because it doesn't "Meet MY needs." Geesh! How ego centric! We saw the same thing with the K12 databases, which were awesome, but a bunch of grumpy old guys that didn't like it for whatever reason, didn't push it like it could have been, and it died..all because it wasn't their coup of tea.
The real sin in any collaborative venture isn't that people passed on embracing a solution foisted upon them by the Government--wait, isn't this America? Isn't this Republican-dominated Texas? What about local control and independent school districts?--run by a corporation, but that anyone thinks technology directors could actually STOP school district leaders from being American. Do we have to ask permission to run course management systems that serve our children well? Do we have to ask permission from state legislature to set aside their solutions when they don't fit the needs of the students and teachers served? I hope not. 

Meanwhile, the list of things "Mama" wants to control seem to be rapidly and endlessly expanding...The government wants to tell us what course management system to use, tell us what professional development we need to have, what our children have to learn, deciding who are the experts you need to listen to, using RFID chips to track children, what's up with all that? (this paragraph adapted from one that appears online).

Wake up, America!

Note: I had a lot of fun writing this. If you're taking this seriously, please take a moment to laugh and remember that in Grumpy Old men, despite professing to be bitter enemies, Jack and Walter's character cared for one another. Oh, and I hope you caught my reverent reference to Earl Pitts, whom you can listen to on YouTube here. 

For a more serious discussion, check this post on Plurality of Solutions.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Tim Holt said…
I responded to your comments on my blog.

It is interesting to me that you use the argument "This is America! Where is our FREEDOM??!!" when discussing technical items that the state asks us to use. That is another straw man excuse for not doing it. "Dammit, firs they take our CMS, next they will take our guns and freedoms!"

( far does that argument go? Doesn't the state mandate a lot of things in K12? Isn't that it's job? Would you say, oh, dump the TEKS because they are mandated curriculum? How about dumping PEIMS? Slippery slope there buddy.) I don't think that the state has MANDATED any use of Project Share. If that were the case, you wouldnt be using Moodle.

What I am asking is this: Why not use a free tool? You don't have to host it, you don't have to pay for a server, you don't have to administer it, other than approving courses and groups.

I will still go back to the K12 databases as an example: I SAT there in the meetings and watched as an entire room of tech administrators collectively tuned out of any presentation given about K12DB. So the message taken back to the districts after tuning out was...? I suspect a bunch went back, and told their supers that K12 was not worth it, don't bother training...

I can't prove that, it is just a guy feeling I have based on the reaction. I also suspect that the grumpy old men are doing the same with Project Share as well.

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