Monday, May 26, 2014

Stain-Proof Teacher

Driving to visit my 85-year old Mom, I glanced over at my son, whose head was down staring at the screen of his iPhone. I started to say, "Hey, how about giving the gadget a break?" but then stopped myself (you learn this as a parent, to keep your mouth shut and your eyes and brain working).

What stopped me was the fact that he was writing, his thumbs flying over the small on-screen keyboard, crafting a long piece in what was obviously, GoogleDocs. I realized he was taking a moment to do some writing on a holiday. So, rather than say anything, I kept my assumptions to myself and I remembered Tom Whitby's points:
What has changed in education since the late seventies is not the specific skills we teach, but how they will be used. Technology has crept into our society in both obvious, and subtle ways. It has changed the way many of us do things, but for our children it is the only way they can or ever knew how do things. Source: Tom Whitby, Eliminate Tech from Education Discussion
For me, writing is a matter of sitting upstairs at the old computer (yes, OLD) and writing. It's the room I go to work in. This is a bad habit to get into, though, the practice of working only when the conditions are right. The truth is, we need to be like Louis L'Amour...who could write anywhere, with a typewriter in the park, no less. Chromebooks, iPads, smartphones make it possible to write, to create no matter where we are at.

I am often at a loss working with education colleagues. I am at a loss because, while I recognize their clinging to a past that is paper-n-pencil only, centered around sit-n-get professional development, a work day that starts and ends with a bell, they expect their students to be more than them. Imagine if my son saw writing as something he only did during certain hours of the day, or during the school week. Imagine if technology didn't enable him to write and share his creation with peers and teachers for review.

If my son can write during Memorial Day weekend, why can't teachers learn and share that learning via Twitter, and blogs? Why must they be reluctant learners?

Tom suggests the following question, "How will the education of any kid be applied in an ever-evolving, technology-driven world in which our kids will be required to live?"

My spiritual mentor once pointed out to me, "Most people slap on a coat of stain to who they are at a certain age...then stop growing." Rather than greet new ideas as a way to stay alive and current that nourish them as living beings, they see new ideas as a corrosive element that will rot them, destroy who they are.

For stain-proof teachers, how will they ever know this if they are unwilling to push themselves out of their comfort zone, to take on yet one more thing, and live in an ever-changing present?

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