I read Tom Whitby’s blog post in My Island View titled Assertions and Assumptions Skew Perceptions and I suddenly felt myself in the rut of education.The realization of this rut led me to the conclusion that I do not want to get back on the main road of education. I instead want to forage a new path of discoveries by stepping away from the industrial classroom and into a connected, interactive, relevant space where students are able to discover themselves and thrive.
Whitby reflects on his attendance to a conference with many educational leaders and their “lack of relevance in the world of EdTech education.” There is a real crisis in our education system that lurks in the lecture halls of undergraduate classes and in the training of pre-service teachers. The education of our future teachers has not evolved with technology and society, leaving the education system stagnate in a pond of traditions and past practice. Our undergraduate students are immersed in basic coursework, leading them to student teacher positions that last weeks in various placements observing and eventually imitating the observed while adhering to policies and procedures that have been in place since the construction of the physical building. Student teachers are looking to gain employment from these experiences so standing up for best practice and innovation are not always recognized and rewarded. Graduate work can bring a sense of loyalty to the system with excitement bubbling under reform. If a teacher is lucky enough to have gained employment the utterance of reform is heard, but caution is a common theme as veterans share their stories. There is resistance to reform and innovation as administrators race to meet the latest educational policy and act.
Where does this leave teachers who are looking to push past political and popular educational practice? How do teachers embrace educational research and practice to inspire relevant reform, innovation and give life to learners who are armed with the knowledge to lead a peaceful and prosperous world? My simple answer is start connecting.
I can remember sitting at a meeting when Facebook ignited social circles, and we (teachers) were encouraged to refrain from using this social medium. Many moons later Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other popular sites have become a staple in the lives of many, yet still blocked in many schools and frowned upon for educational purposes. What is being ignored is the ability to connect. We can connect to each other personally and professionally. We can create spaces where professional development is continuous. We can share ideas, concerns, problems and solutions. We can create spaces for dialogues that shape our professional practices and perspectives allowing us to grow in our profession, absorb best practices and begin to shift our industrial rows of desks into a web of connections. These connections allow us a common voice that can not be ignored by politicians and public perception. It is a voice that can be so big that it could allow educators to take back education and make educational reform a prosperous reality instead of and empty campaign promise, that is based on nostalgia, empty bank accounts, and little research.
Let us give each other a voice. Next time you are at a conference give people your digital profile. Start creating a digital profile if you do not have one. Ask colleagues friends and yes even your students what they use and like. The act of questioning alone begins a connection. Let them follow you on social media. Connect, share, listen and be heard. Open your mind to the possibilities of EdTech not only to inspire the next generation of learners, but to connect and ignite this generation of teachers. Technology is not just a way to learn or teach but it is a way to develop relationships, understanding and tolerance. In a world that is connected to technology, we need to be better at connecting to each other through technology. It is time to push back on what politicians are calling reform and take back our profession.