In England we have a weekly soap set in a school called Waterloo Road. This has everything you would hope not to find in a school: inappropriate behaviour, theft, even attempted murder – and that’s just the staff. The kids are pretty OK by comparison: teenaged pregnancy, illegal drug-taking and gangs. Strangely enough, there doesn’t seem to be more than 30 kids on roll, judging by the number of people who attend whole-school assemblies. But my main interest is this: what (good) use of technology is shown in this programme?
If you want students to be good learners and users of technology, you have to set a good example. That is basically the message of Shelly Terrell's latest post, Most Teachers Don't Live There. Shelly asks:
If we are knowledge sharers, shouldn’t we continue to fill ourselves with knowledge?
If we want to inspire students to continue learning throughout their lives, then shouldn’t we continue to learn throughout our lives?
If we want motivated students who see learning as a journey, then shouldn’t we continue our journey?
If we want to motivate students to be the best in their fields, then shouldn’t we be the best in our fields?
If we want other educators to listen to our ideas, then shouldn’t we read about their ideas?
If we want support from our colleges, then shouldn’t we support their workshops and projects?
If we want students to use digital media responsibly, then shouldn’t we give them access and show them how?
If we want student to not let technology overtake their lives, then shouldn’t we teach them how to balance themselves?
How can we teach balance, if we don’t have any social media in our diet?
These are great questions, and they are spot on. Whether you work in a school, a Local Authority or for a company or for yourself, if you do nothing else you must at least be an excellent role model in your appraoch to education in general and to educational technology in particular.
In fact, I would go further than Shelly has, and say it's not only about setting a good example to our students, but to our colleagues as well.
Of course, some of Shelly's challenges are hard to meet, like the ones about balance. Recently we watched a programme called "Email is ruining my life", which looked at someone who sleeps with her Blackberry next her in case an email comes through in the middle of the night, checks emails in the bathroom, checks them whilst having dinner.... I am not that bad, but I must be heading in that direction because at the end of the programme Elaine said to me:
"Recognise anyone you know?"
I tried to plead the 5th, but that doesn't cut much ice in England.
It reminds me of this story:
A woman takes her little boy to see a Holy Man. She says, "Please tell my son to stop eating sugar."
He replies: "Certainly. Bring your son to me in three days' time."
Three days later, she returns with her son, and the Holy Man says to him, "Stop eating sugar."
The woman says, "Why couldn't you have told him that three days ago?"
"Because", he says, "Three days ago I had not stopped eating sugar."
Shelly's post is very challenging, I think, and she finishes it with a great challenge to the reader. Do head on over there to read her post in full.