Monday, July 4, 2011

Fix the Problem, Not The Blame

     My dad taught me how to drive on an old Jeep. I am quite certain that I killed the clutch (and I know I destroyed an exit sign on the Merritt Parkway) but my dad continued to teach me in spite of my comments that I would never, ever master this four (sob) wheel (sob) thing. He would reply, with patience and fortitude, that driving (especially an old jeep) is a magical blend of art and science. Dad assured me that I would indeed master the the right blend of gas, clutch, and brake, and hopefully, I would not kill any living thing in the pursuit of this goal. Dad always believed you should fix the problem, not the blame.
     Learning anything new is scary and thrilling all at the same time. It's a roller coaster, isn't it? Some folks don't enjoy the roller coaster. Too much fear about the downs, too much anxiety on the way up. There has been quite a bit of blame (and downright crankiness) spreading across blogs and twitter today. Humph! It's 4th of July folks! Let's declare independence from any more name calling and blaming. I admit I have been stewing today over recent posts that blame teachers for not being more technologically savvy, for not integrating technology into their classrooms, for being lazy and unprofessional, for the lack of world peace . . . oh wait, I guess teachers have escaped blame about the lack of world peace, but teachers be warned, that will be next. Really? Having been in the classroom trenches for over a decade, I do not believe that laziness and unprofessionalism are to blame as to why many teachers do not integrate technology into their classroom lessons. I believe the situation is far more complex. It is my experience that most teachers do want to incorporate technology into the classroom. It is not usually about choice for them. Most teachers do not choose to make technology a low priority, however, there are a zillion more things that do become priorities. Teachers carry the weight of all the multitude of decisions made every minute, everyday with them constantly. Teaching is one of the ten most stressful jobs you can have. Do we have teachers who coast? Sure. Are there teachers who are lazy? Sure. Most teachers I know do want to learn (after all, it is one of the primal forces that inspired you to become a teacher) and sometimes all they need is a a helping hand. A real helping hand.
     How many schools do you know that give teachers adequate time just to learn how to integrate technology into their classroom lessons? Almost all U.S. public schools I know devote weekly time to data driven teams intent on increasing test scores in particular areas. I cannot think of one public school that on a weekly basis provides the necessary intense indoctrination into learning technology that it will take to turn the situation around. Ah, but wait, the Internet exists where teachers can learn about technology! Yes, it's true and many teachers, bless them, do devote a good amount of time to this endeavor. Well then, why isn't there a greater integration of technology into these classrooms? Perhaps it is fear, maybe the lack of equipment, or gosh, maybe because most teachers are not evaluated on their use of technology during classroom visits. Ah! So it must be the administrators' fault that teachers do not have the time, training, motivation, and equipment to make true technology integration a reality. Hmm, again, I think it is more complex than that. [Sigh of relief from administrators.]
     So, shoot, what's a tech integrator to do? Instead of being frustrated and blaming different folks, let's just fix the problem. You have to find your own way to this solution. For me, it comes down to one simple statement that Ghandi made. You remember, Ghandi, right? He's a fellow who really understood that change is messy and sometimes it requires a lot of patience. He said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Boy, is that simple. Do I get frustrated? Absolutely. However, instead of beating my head against the wall, I read every book I could about change. Slowly, I adjusted who I target in my drive toward technology integration. I became more savvy about who the game changers were around me. It's not easy but I rely on Ghandi's advice and my dad's advice every day. Fix the problem, not the blame. Be the change you want to see in the world.
     And for goodness sake, if that doesn't work for you, try my mom's advice, "You get more with honey than you do with vinegar." :)

No comments:

Post a Comment