In my last post, I discussed the need for flexibility as we adjust to rapid change. In this submission, I will utilize a post by Scott McLeod on his blog at dangerouslyirrelevant.org entitled “Should We Let Educators Off the Hook?” McLeod poses the question, “Given the realities of our modern age and the demands of our children’s future, is it really okay to allow teachers to choose whether or not they incorporate digital technologies into their instruction?” McLeod’s answer is an emphatic “NO, WE CAN’T LET EDUCATORS OFF THE HOOK.” He goes on to say that educators have a paid responsibility to be relevant, to prepare students for tomorrow, for the world as it is and will be.
No Excuse Is a Good Excuse. I agree with McLeod that no excuse flies in this situation. Whether it is fear or intransigence, no reason is good enough not to engage in “the largest transformation in learning that ever has occurred in human history.” Difficult? Some are unable? McLeod responds that technology and web 2.0 tools have become easier, many times easier, than the old days of MS DOS code and an internet that was largely text.
It’s Not About Us. In the end, Scott makes a most important point. It’s not about us. It’s not about what I want to do, what I prefer not to do, how I want to conduct my classroom regardless. It’s not about me and my world; it’s about the students and their world. The covers are off the text books, the walls of our classrooms have been blown away. There is no choice but to adapt. Educators can no longer go inside and close the classroom door on the greater world. We cannot bury our students within the confining boundaries of a text book or pretend that being provincial is ok in today’s world.
What If I Don’t? So what about that person who can’t/won’t change? McLeod asserts that life-long learners must take responsibility for keeping pace with change rather than blaming others for their inactivity or denying what is taking place around them. Scott asks, “If you’re a teacher/administrator/librarian/education professor that somehow doesn’t even realize (yet) that there’s a decision to be made, should you even be working in a school or university? Don’t our children deserve someone who is in a different place than you are? It’s one thing to be a learner (with this technology stuff) . . . . It’s another to opt out or not even recognize the choice. If we look at what our kids need, shouldn’t we replace you with someone else?”
Looking With “New” Eyes. Let me offer yet another way of looking at the situation. Remember when you were a new teacher, faced with a first year of new course preparations and having little idea about what it took to be an effective teacher? Did you not respond to that challenge with extra resolve, increased energy and a great investment of time in order to be the best that you could be? I recall being faced with the task of teaching Appleworks with no home computer and little computer experience. I was at the school for hours that summer readying myself for this new teaching responsibility, and I’m sure most educators can relate a similar story.
In a sense, we are all new teachers again, uncertain where to begin and how to proceed. But begin we must, and proceed we will. Extra demands may fall upon us relative to time and energy as we bring ourselves up to speed in accordance with the technology requirements of our curriculum. We must respond to this challenge as professionals responsible for our own preparation and professional development, whether by doing those little things each day to enhance our abilities or seeking out opportunities for more intense training.
Mandates Leave No Choice. The MNW Board will soon consider the approval of a 21st Century District Philosophy. It will include the use of appropriate technologies in the classroom; incorporating the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills, as well as utilizing technology to make global connections for our students. Additionally the Iowa Core’s Information Literacy Curriculum is specific in its benchmarks for student use of technology at every grade level. These District and State requirements make it clear that one cannot distance oneself from the infusion of technology and 21st Century Skills into our classrooms. From this perspective there is no choice in the matter, no question about “getting off the hook.” Progress will surely take place at different rates from one educator to another; however, progress must be evident in every case. Our students deserve nothing less.