UK blogger Terry Freedman wrote a great post on the TechLearning blog called “Oh Sir, you are too kind“. He actually wrote it a while ago now (Sept 07) but I only just stumbled across it… I guess that’s one of the great things about blogs, the way they can capture someone’s thoughts at a particular point in time and make them available to anyone, even people who stumble across them much later.
Terry’s basic premise is to ask why we keep putting up with teachers who can’t or won’t get to grips with ICT in their teaching. He seems to think that it’s time to tell teachers that ICT is an important component of being a teacher and that if you can’t, won’t or don’t get yourself up to speed with technology and how it should be used to integrate with student learning then it may be time to find another job. And he suggests that we are being way too nice about accepting this sort of thing, and allowing the laggards to get away with it.
He’s absolutely right of course. The laggards ARE still lagging, and schools don’t seem to be willing to draw the line in the sand and start demanding some ROI on the millions of dollars they’ve spent in professional development over the years. Terry says we are too nice. OK Terry, here goes…
For many years now I have been in the position of someone who works with teachers to assist them learn about, and then embed, technology into their teaching. Some get excited about the possibilities it offers, and some have actually told me that they have no intention of doing anything about it. Some say that they are too old, some say they are close enough to retirement that they aren’t going to worry about it, and most tell me that are just too busy with all the other stuff they need to do. It ticks me off to hear the excuses that teachers come up with about why they can’t integrate technology into their teaching… “I don’t have enough time, I’m so busy” is the commonest one.
Poppycock. We all have 24 hours in a day. We’re all busy, we all have too much to do and not enough time to do it… so how come some people are able to learn and apply what they need to learn and apply, and others cannot? If we all have the same amount of time in our day, then it’s clearly NOT a matter of finding time, no matter how much people use that as an excuse. Are they suggesting that the people who do learn this stuff have more time on their hands? Do I not have enough things to do, so I’ll just get good at using technology in all my spare time? If they don’t want to learn what they ought to know, then just come out and say so, but don’t insult me with the “I don’t have time” excuse, because trust me, I don’t have time either.
Is it intelligence? Maybe some people are just too stupid to use a computer. Maybe some people really are incapable of learning this stuff? Aptitude has something to do with I’m sure, but that only explains why some people might pick technology skills up quicker than others… it doesn’t explain why some don’t seem to be able to pick it up at all. Especially when you see the basic, basic stuff that seems to confuse some people… I mean jeez, how hard is it to make a frickin’ folder and save something in it? Trained monkeys could do that. If people are too stupid to learn basic, low level operational skills, then maybe they are too stupid to teach.
But we all know that time and intelligence have nothing to do with it. There is only one factor in this that really matters, and that’s the motivation to learn these things. After 30 years of the personal computer being in our schools, ongoing opportunities for professional learning, and the continual development of better, simpler and more intuitive technologies, there are no valid excuses that teachers could possibly dream up to justify why they could not or should not be actively embedding information and communication technologies into their classrooms. We manage to do all the other stuff that teaching entails – write reports, do playground duty, turn up to class on time – but for some reason when it comes to adopting the use of ICTs in our work too many people still feel they have the right to treat that as optional. It’s not. It’s part of the job of being a 21st century educator. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.
I think Terry’s right… it’s time for those teachers who have not accepted ICTs to shit or get off the pot. I’m tired of accepting excuses. Technology is, and will continue to be, an absolutely integral part of the lives our students will lead. The work we are doing in our classrooms to prepare them for this future must contain a significant amount of access to, and understanding of, this technology or we are failing them as teachers. To be a technologically illiterate teacher in the 21st century is unacceptable, unethical and unprofessional. To hold students back from using the tools that they need to be literate for the 21st century is, quite frankly, immoral.
Seriously, if becoming technologically literate is too hard, or you don’t think it’s “your cup of tea”, then get out now. Quit. Let someone else take over and do the incredibly important work of educating our young people using the tools they deserve.
Thanks for getting me fired up Terry.Image: ‘Car Problems‘