Culture Overhaul

In a conversation I had recently with a colleague about teachers using technology, he made the two following points:

  1. He was constantly shocked by the way his fellow professionals made the ‘lack of time’ argument when it came to upskilling themselves.
  2.  He could not believe that all teachers do not consider a main priority to be the use of technology and ensuring students develop their digital knowledge and skills during all learning they provide

To further elaborate on point 1, this is a man approaching retirement (are you listening Prensky?) and he told me that he had worked outside of education for many years ‘in a trade’. He argued that skilling yourself up is the norm in any trade. You don’t get extra time for this in most cases but those who do are more likely to stay in work, gain promotion, more customers, etc. Hence, it tends to be the norm to do so or to put it in his terms, it is part of the job. This is surely a cultural feature of the trades that he was referring to.

On point 2, this is a man who buys his own device that suits him rather than taking the free school laptop provided. He researches and resources ways of working that put students digital life/employability skills at the forefront of the education programmes they are involved in (eg collaborative online note-taking, eportflio construction, etc). He insists on their involvement in these ways of working and makes it clear to the students why such involvement is vital to their life after school.

Therefore, to relate all this back to the teaching profession, his argument is that the use of technology and developing teaching methods that push its use, are a vital component of the everyday job that all teachers do. Ok, that’s nothing new really but perhaps what is a relatively different way of thinking about all this is that it is just an everyday part of the job.

Maybe it’s a change of culture we need here, a cultural overhaul of the teaching profession. Should schools and the profession as a whole be moving away from considering providing extra incentives (time, money, leadership roles, etc) when it is part of the job? Do we do that for marking work, for example? Let’s go even further and raise the question: is a culture of ‘special treatment’ for teachers to upskill themselves in respect of technology holding back chances of a cultural overhaul?

I am looking forward to any thoughts to grow the seed my colleague planted


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One thought on “Culture Overhaul

  1. As one of Adrian Cronauer’s characters said on Good Mornin’ Vietnam, “Oh you’re gonna burn in hell for that one.”

    I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but here goes.

    First let’s consider point 1. The ‘lack of time’ argument has been around for thirty years now, at least to which I can attest. Perhaps longer? And I have to confess to having used it on more than one occasion. However I suspect that each time I used it, it was to argue against something I didn’t really want to do … usually some new administrative process, which I was inevitably obliged to undertake. If however I found an amazing new application which I thought would be useful in my lessons, I’d spend as long as necessary developing my skill and understanding of what it could do.

    Turning to point 2. It’s not me you’re quoting here is it? I too have spent a fortune on buying tech that for the most part I didn’t need personally and simply wanted the time to explore its potential for use within an educational context. Sometimes the items I bought couldn’t be used at work because they couldn’t be connected for safety and security reasons, or because the ports needed to connect outwards weren’t open. But again, they were choices I made to further my own capability and experience. That personal development certainly benefitted the organisation I was working for at the time, but also perhaps made me more marketable for the times I needed to change job? Should the organisation I work for provide all the equipment I need? Maybe. In some jobs, that indeed is the case; in others not so. A doctor or plumber might be expected, or choose to provide some of their own tools, whilst their employer will provide others (Disposable? Complex?)

    Now to the question of whether technology and becoming competent in its use is ‘part of the job.’ I think to a large extent that will depend on what the job actually is. Is it explicit in the contract of employment which we all presumably sign, what our duties and obligations are? Does that include professional development and is there an expectation of annual progress? (In some countries, I believe that is the case). Some might argue for a professional body to which teachers are required to belong, in order to maintain and develop high standards of professionalism, including personal development. (As with the Claim Your College campaign in the UK). There are professional bodies which govern similar aspects in other professions – Law? Medicine? Architecture? Engineering? Are we late to the party of this one?

    Perhaps if we make some systemic changes, the cultural changes might happen naturally?

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