To teach or not to teach, that is the question …

Hamlet said:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

My deliberate misquote is about teaching. It comes out of a conversation I’ve just had with my DP where he told me some of his past parents are complaining that their children are bored at high school because they’re being taught maths they learned 2 years ago while in his extension maths class.

That reminded me of a twitter conversation I had with someone about some of the ways I’ve been using ICT in my classroom and how high schools need to catch up. It also reminded me of a conversation about the ‘luddites’ – those who resist using new technology in their classrooms. It used to be that we should wait for them to catch up. Now the thought is that we should continue our ICT/e-learning journeys in spite of where they are at. Some will eventually catch up; some will never catch up.

The question therefore is this: do we as primary school teachers with a passion for e-learning, ICTs, unlearning & relearning, follow our passion or do we sit back and wait to see what the high schools are going to teach? At the moment it seems that in many areas primary school teachers are leading the charge.

Another question is this: do I, as a passionate advocate for integration of ICT into all areas of my teaching and learning within the classroom environment, go with ‘the flow’ or do I stick my neck out and go with my passion? What will happen to students in my class who go into a classroom next year where e-learning isn’t central?

My decision (well – not really mine alone – my DP and Principal support me) is to continue to lead the charge in e-learning – and hopefully enthuse and encourage others to join me (and it is happening).

I guess the next question is this: how do we draw others along with us on this fantastic e-learning journey? For it is a fantastic journey and it’s one where we’re not the only teachers – my students (7-9 years old) teach me things all the time – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

6 thoughts on “To teach or not to teach, that is the question …

  • August 4, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    You know, I don’t think of myself as being passionate about ICT. I’m passionate about teaching. It’s just that the tools available through ICT open up so many possibilities for enhancing teaching and learning. The other thing is that the connectedness that is possible because of ICT means there’s so much opportunity to learn from other educators.
    It seems to me that what we’re doing must spread. People will want to be part of the action. I’m optimistic.

  • August 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I hadn’t thought about the difference between passion for teaching vs passion for ICT – I guess that’s cos I’m so geeky!!

    And I agree – it must spread!

  • August 5, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Technology is not only another tool to use to teach – it is a vital education in its own right. We can only imagine the technology that will be available in our children’s lives and the exponential growth is inevitable. Children need to be educated in HOW to USE the technology as well as using it to learn about wider topics. It should be integral in all classrooms. I think you should follow your passion – your pupils will thank you.

  • August 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

    This really got me thinking. I have had many of my students return to me after leaving my year 6 classroom complaining they never get to use a computer again for their learning. Complaining about losing interest in their learning etc etc.

    By not letting students learn in the way they want to learn, with the tools they are used to using we could be switching very talented intelligent kids off learning. That is a travesty. I love the quote in Gary Stager’s post where he says instead of calling teachers who refuse to use technology digital immigrants we should call them digital ninnies and write up an IEP as we would for any student who refused to or had difficulty with learning something new.

  • August 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    as you know, this is an issue close to my heart. at secondary (where i teach), we have so little resources for ict. in my department, those of us who use ict (2 totally ict, 2 a little, out of 17) are considered new-fangled, dependent on bells and whistles, and busy “entertaining” the kids, rather than working within their existent skill set. or maybe this is just my perception. since no one seems interested in what i do, i feel that they aren’t interested, but it could certainly be a time thing as we all have to spend many hours/week in extra-curricular activities. we are, however, urging and encouraging our peers to get on the ict bus and take it for a ride. i have asked my hod to allow me to present during a good chunk of our department meeting many of the things i am using regularly – and this is less blogs and wikis and more about other tools that help me teach, including the primary importance of a PLN.

    that aside, we simply do not have funding for unlimited access to the net. (what little we use now is a constant thorn in the side of the ict department’s budget.) we fight against having techs decide which sites (and tools!) we can have access to (constantly! what is that all about?). and we do not have nearly enough computers to go round. at my school of nearly 1200 kids, we have 3 labs of 30 or less computers each, and one set of mobile laptops. we also have 8 desktops in the library, and one set (35) of ancient laptops in the library that no one uses because they are hopeless. and guess what? the computer labs have ict classes in them, so getting a class in there is by lucky break only – if it’s the ict teacher’s free period. i happen to be lucky this year. my accelerates are on the ict-free line. (and thank goodness no one else is as keen as i!) i have to fight with the other english teachers who use the mobile laptops for word processing and the maths department (who book them up 3-4 periods a day for weeks at a time) doing … i have no idea.

    so do kids leave y’all and do pen and paper work for the rest of their educational careers? yes. they do. and it’s a shame. i would really like to see our govt do what many are doing around the world and supply every kid with a laptop and give schools wireless, reasonably priced internet service (something we pay FAR too much for in NZ, especially considering the crappy speed considering what we pay).

    at the high school level we constantly fight against kids using technology irresponsibly – downloading games (this takes up major space on our server), wasting time, watching youtube, accessing youtube via their mobiles…but i think this is the price we pay for the services we need.

    i look forward to seeing what the future will bring. in the meantime, i try to do my little part.

  • August 12, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Thanks for that Kelly – I guess I didn’t realise how hard it was for high school teachers – you work with bigger numbers than we do in primary and although it’s been a hard slog to get to this position we still aren’t faced with the same challenges.

    I wonder if we need support groups or clusters – not the official ICTPD ones but like what happens at conference where you can go to the bloggers cafe and hang out with people who think like you.

    It certainly would be moral support for the lone voice in the wilderness.

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