Friday, June 22, 2012

Those Digital Natives are not Teachers

Just because it's a computer
doesn't mean it's remarkable.
Is it just me or has the phrase "digital natives" started to sound a lot like the "noble savages" idea of some years ago? I get this sense that we have no idea of how limited most students are, tech-wise and otherwise, and so we attribute mythical abilities to all students due to their being just a single step up the tech knowledge ladder from most teachers, present company excluded.

Anyway ...

NEAToday sent me "5 Tips for Tech Terrified Teachers", and I'm thinking to myself, "Holy Crap, Self! How can there be any Tech-Terrified Teachers left?" and then I get depressed because I know it's true.

How is it that any teacher isn't tech savvy by now? All the new teachers are part of that digital native group we've been placing on a pedestal these last ten years, while the more experienced ones are adapting to it. Are there really that many older teachers who are still terrified of tech and refuse to embrace it? Are there really that many people who are afraid to RTFM and learn some new software?

I'll tell you what I think: we still have too many stupid, pig-headed, teachers.

Read this list, if you don't believe me. Consider that some teachers need to read this and change, that some teachers are still resisting tech, and that the union felt it necessary to write this and publish it. Then you can laugh about the odd phrasing, simplistic advice, and especially #5.
  1. Remember, it’s not about you! Your discomfort with technology impacts your students’ futures. Teachers need to be preparing students for the world we live in today. So many jobs are dependent on a basic understanding of technology. Always ask yourself, “am I teaching something that is obsolete, or something that will help my students in the future that lies ahead?”
  2. Don’t resist your tech guru teacher-friend: It is difficult to ask for help but partnering up with a tech guru teacher-friend can provide a support system that can help ease your transition from tech terrified to tech curious.
  3. Realize it’s okay if you are not in control: In reflection, I realize that a major reason that I resisted tech for so long is because I feared what would happen if I was no longer in control…but it is okay if the tech malfunctions. In fact it can lead to some pretty teachable moments.
  4. Let your students teach you something: Newsflash – if you think you are the omnipotent force in your classroom, think again! Kids know a lot these days and it can boost their confidence and engagement if you call on students for support.
  5. If you find a product you like, ask someone from the company to come visit – Tech startups want you to use their products so most likely if you send an email, they will answer any questions you have or maybe even come visit your school to teach you how to use their product.
About #5: Tech startups will send someone to talk to Dan Meyer, Sal Kahn, or someone who will really make use of their software and make some valid contributions.

No company will send someone out to talk to a tech-terrified teacher with some toys sitting around the classroom gathering dust because loser child can't be bothered to figure out how to turn them on.

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