I have been thinking about why teachers (some not all) have such a resistance to learn something new. It seems so ridiculous that educators refuse to learn just like the students they face everyday. My background is teaching both high school and college English. I know about the students who refuse to help themselves and who flounder in distractions. Is this just our default reaction when we are put in the student seat or is this a way to let off steam by becoming another teacher’s worst nightmare?
I am a compulsive problem solver, so it completely consumes me when I am in a training surrounded by professional teachers who refuse to be open to new ideas. What’s the deal with that? Why are teachers notorious for being stuck in their ways while also living a vocational lifestyle that expects their students to have an open mind? I guess I could throw words around like “irony” and “hypocrisy” but complaining about the problem doesn’t fix the problem.
So, what is the problem?
I think the problem, especially when it comes to learning new technology, is that what worked for yesterday doesn’t always work for today. How we learned as kids, as students, and as humans has always been founded on experience. We have spent a lifetime learning from our poor choices or from others’ poor choices. We have been influenced by teachers teaching the way they were taught. We have been shaped by our parents who have been shaped by their parents who were shaped by their parents. The problem isn’t with our reliance on tradition, but with our reliance on experience. In so many aspects of life and in the classroom, our experience is what supports us, informs us, and ultimately defines us. But, when it comes to technology, this logical approach no longer works. It isn’t just that technology is “new.” It is more about that technology is ever changing. What I learned about social media started with AOL and chatrooms. Now there’s an endless amount of tools to do the same thing: talk to people. Experience plays such a limited role now when learning technology, especially when using it in a classroom that teachers turned students seem to shut down. This isn’t just learning a new skill, it is learning a new mindset.
So, what do we do? I hope that if we change our expectations for how we should learn technology, then maybe we will give ourselves the freedom to fail and to not be an expert, which will in turn allow us to experiment. Experimentation is what is needed in order to take on all that technology is. It is time to accept that you cannot rely on what you already know to learn and integrate technology. You must rely on your willingness to imagine, create, and experiment which for some has not been accessed since they were a student in school.