Teachers and Self-imposed Limitations

Looking through my email today, I found the following blog post from My Island View:

This is the link to the article below:  Don’t Argue For Your Limitations

It discusses the fact that many teachers are afraid of learning to use technology in the classroom.

Don’t Argue For Your Limitations

by Tom Whitby @tomwhitby

Over the many years that I have been in education and around educators, I have never been able to understand why so many educators, so willingly and publicly, argue for their limitations. Why do they insist, as educators, on stating aloud, “ I don’t get technology and I am not going to start now”?

I taught many in-service courses to educators that required computer use. On many, many occasions educators sitting at their computers would say, “I can’t do this”. My response was simple but crude; I would turn off the computer of the person who had made that statement. After protestations about my action, I would explain that they had convinced me by their statements and attitude that they could not do the assigned task using the computer. I simply accepted their argument about their lack of ability to learn through technology. That was when the light bulb floating magically over their heads would light up. Actively trying and overcoming failures was the key to accomplishing the goal. They most often renewed their efforts after rebooting their computer.

Learning with or about technology for those who have not grown up with technology is an uncomfortable thing to do. It forces people to make mistakes and adjustments in order to learn. The idea of an educator making a mistake in regard to either teaching or in their own content area was something that could not be accepted according to most teacher preparation programs of the 20th century. That may be why so many people openly claim to be unable to “get it” when it comes to technology, rather than to bravely face the demons of discomfort.

Technology and tides stop for no man/woman. Technology that affects almost everything we do today is not going away. It will continue to evolve at even faster rates and have an even greater effect on the speed at which change takes place.

Educators today in addition to everything else they need to know must be digitally literate, because in the world in which their students will live, digital literacy will be essential to survive and more hopefully thrive.

A digitally literate educator is a relevant educator. Educators who are not digitally literate are not bad people. They may also be good teachers. However they may not be providing everything their students will need to meet their personal learning goals for their technology-driven world.

Educators do not need to argue for their limitations. There is no limit to the number of people, who for their own reasons, will do that for them, whether it is true or not. Ironically, politicians with their own multitude of shortcomings probably head that list of finger-pointers. Educators need to be aware of how the world has changed from the 20th century that has heavily influenced so many of our educators. Technology’s integration into learning is no longer a choice that educators have to make. Technology is with us to stay. As uncomfortable as it is, educators need to step up and stop making excuses for their digital illiteracy. Schools need to support professional development to get all educators up to speed on what they need to know. It will be an ongoing need since technology will continue to evolve. If we expect to better educate our kids, we must first better educate their educators.

Here is my response: 

No teacher should ever–ever–lose interest in learning something new. What’s the first thing we tell our students if they don’t understand something? “How are you going to learn if you don’t try?” Teachers should be modeling this behavior instead of fighting it.
Right now and for the next few years, I live on an island in the Caribbean–way off in the Netherlands Antilles–and hear the same comments from teachers who are basically being “encouraged” to learn to use technology. That they don’t understand it is not going to help them if they don’t learn about it, and with the many opportunities now being offered on the island for them to learn, there is just no excuse. As with everything in teaching and/or learning something new–and just like for the students–it is scary and uncomfortable at first. But soon it becomes easier as concepts and hands-on time is increased and comfort level grows. Fear of learning something new is not a good quality for a teacher to have. Students sense the anxiety and begin to take on the same anxieties and fear of learning.
This is something that occurs world-wide, not just on small islands. When I got into teaching it was for the sheer love of learning, and I was willing to learn as much from my students as I was from my professors and more experienced teachers. The question might not be why limit yourself so much as why did you become a teacher if you are not willing to grow?
Just sayin’…

What are YOUR views?