Education is like many other organizations and institutions, I suppose, where change is inevitable. However, it seems to come to us as sweeping changes, moving at a glacial pace. I suppose it’s because ultimately, teachers are the agent of change, and like water running through a hose, information or instructional practice can be throttled down or opened right up. If you extrapolate on the hose analogy, the end result is that the change makes its way through in either scenario, but does it gently flow over and enhance existing ground, or does it blast out under high pressure, annihilating anything in its path?
Curriculum change isn’t as dramatic. I was thinking about that recently in our talks of moving away from the “go to the computer lab and ‘do’ technology model” to the more reliance on mobile solutions that provide in-time/where you need it resources and opportunities. As I reflect over even my own practice around Educational Technology, I can see the shifts both in content and in delivery. In the beginning (well, not as far back as that phrase would suggest) a trip to the computer lab meant getting all the students down to the room, all logged in, and then 20 minutes spent on keyboard practice, and then some free time. Eventually I realized that the keyboarding was much like the Spelling program, and I stopped doing both about 10 years ago (kids who are good at typing or spelling LOVE the quizzes and tests…the rest resent it, and it does nothing to improve their abilities–as soon as you look away, a kid who has his or her own method of typing runs away from home row.) And some of us will never be able to spell
defiantly definetely definately definitely no matter how many times we write it out.
So we are comfortable asking our students to try something new when we are enthusiastic about a new topic or approach. What about when we ourselves are skeptical or resistant? This is were the hose is throttled. I was thinking about this phenomenon (I can never spell that word right the first time either) the other day when the topic of the “Flipped Classroom” came up. Basically, it’s simply another way of delivering instruction. I feel strongly that it fits in with our mobile learning/BYOD model. But, like any change, it is not fully embraced by everyone equally.
In the discussion that ensued, I was reminded of a very similar attack on a “new model” some 20 years prior. At that time, the flavour of the week was “cooperative learning”. I remember listening to a senior teacher go on about how it was a stupid model that would never work and he proved it by telling his students “Okay, you have 2 classes to work in groups of 6 to finish this project. You will all get the same mark. Go”. Well, not-at-all-shockingly, the project completely bombed (3 kids did all the work, 10 maybe glued a few things to a poster board, and the rest ran rampant in the classroom). So what did that prove?
Change is bad.
I have been teaching 20 years so I know the one and only way to do it.
I can in no way improve my practice.
I can’t be forced to try something new and neither can my learners.
If I am certain it will fail, it certainly will.
I have not always been a band-wagon-jumper-on-er, but I’ve always been game to try–or at least listen–to a new approach. As I have gently been coaxing my fellow teachers to embrace technology in a variety of forms, I have seen successes and failures… and most of them were pre-determined.