Of Course I think it Matters

There has been an astonishing and healthy conversation going on about the blog entry I wrote the other day about that NYTimes laptops piece.  The entry is entitled, What’s good about the May 4 NY Times Article about Laptops in Schools. Last night, in his signature prickliness, Gary Stager (not his first comment on this blog post) lamented that we have had computers in classrooms for 25 years, and that some teachers still resist them indicates “…a conscious effort to be non-learners.”

I’ve claimed my own frustration at teachers who ask, “But who’s going to teach me how to do that?”  Sadly, we are a generation who was taught how to be taught — not how to teach ourselves.  It’s one of the many reasons why the experiences that our children have in the classroom must become much more self-directed, relevant, and rich.  They/we need to learn to teach ourselves.  Teachers shouldn’t need professional development.  They should be saying, hey, I’m going to teach myself how to do that this weekend.  It’s about life long learning.  Not about a life of being taught.

More to the point of this post, Gary sayed,

We can hire people to keynote professional development days or run two-hour workshops on Web 2.0 and it won’t matter a bit.

To some, I suspect that this is true.  The highly skeptical scholar, like Stager, is likely impervious to motivational demonstrations and counter-intuitive connections made by the likes of Ian Jukes, David Thornburg, Alan November, Jamie McKenzie, Marc Prenski, Will Richardson, …. or even — me!  I’ve not seen him present, but I’m told that Gary, himself, can whip up a rousing “Amen!” from a pulsing crowd of eager educators.

This image is not a slight to Cory Doctorow. The empty chairs just seemed fitting somehow

But does it really matter?  I think it does.  While teachers should be able to teach themselves, inspiration to want to grow and change to adapt, for must of us, comes from outside.  It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, a teacher comes up to me and says, “You know that session that you and Will Richardson did at the NCAECT conference a few weeks ago.  I just wanted you to know that it changed how I teach.  My students are blogging and we have a classroom podcast now…” 

She didn’t say that her students were learning better.  But this teacher, who was now attending a MEGA conference after school in Raleigh, seemed genuinely satisfied with her teaching and with her classroom — and surprised in her satisfaction.

So, although I agree with most everything that Gary says, here, I’m going to take just a bit of exception.

Sorry, Gary.  I know you must be crushed!       😉

2¢ Worth!

Image Citation:
Fiander, David. “Cory Doctorow’s Opening Plenary.” Djfiander’s Photostream. 2 Feb 2007. 9 May 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/bookgeek/377766999/>.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.