I am becoming ever more conscious of the fact that people like me often come across as technophiles who focus on technology rather than pedagogy. By the time we realise we are giving the wrong impression it’s often too late.
No matter how we emphasise that the latter is far more important than the former – it’s not the tool that matters, it’s how you use it – people have already made up their minds: at best you’re a gullible victim of ridiculous new fads – which will never catch on anyway – and at worst you’re a condescending and contemptible person who, by extolling a certain approach to teaching and learning, is implying the inferiority of everyone else’s approach.
I have grappled with this quandary before and my policy of not-evangelising-but-instead-leading-by-example, which by and large produces the desired effect in the long term, is proving to be ineffective in combating the perceptions of teachers who may interpret any suggestions of change as a personal attack on often deeply held pedagogical values and beliefs.
Whilst recognising that one does certainly not need technology to be a brilliant teacher – some of the best teachers I know hardly ever use a computer in a lesson – one must also realise that widening the gap between our pupils’ experience of the world and our more traditional pedagogical values often leads to situations in which our expectations and theirs are widely differing. Prohibiting the use of mobile phones – even to set reminders for homework due dates – and the filtering out from school networks of the social networking phenomenon which could otherwise be harnessed to help deliver the curriculum in a more contemporary way are just two examples of expectations which we are failing to meet.
People like me – those who are willing to adapt our practice to the world in which we live – are often accused of being pedantic or patronising. However, we are seldom praised for being open to new ideas or for exploring new pedagogies.
If you take a moment’s thought you’ll realise I am neither condescending nor patronising. I am humbly acknowledging that there may be a better way.
What do you think?