Do We Adapt To Culture Or Create It?
As I continue to gather information and knowledge in preparation for my new assignment in September, I seem to be finding more questions than answers. At first this was a little disconcerting as I wondered if I would ever know everything I needed to know in time to take the reigns from an outstanding predecessor. However, I have now reached a point where these questions are providing inspiration and helping to shape a plan and vision of what can be achieved in our system.
Today I had a conversation with an administrator which helped to shape a key question I feel educators need to address in the very near future. Whenever we talk of the world the students we currently teach will live in, we often refer back to a keynote address at our last summer convention by David Warlick. To grossly over-generalize his message, we are preparing our students for a world we can not accurately describe, where the only thing we know for sure is that technological literacy is an essential skill.
If the key element of the future for our students is the ability to utilize and manipulate technology, if this is indeed the culture and society into which they will enter, is there any excuse for us as educators not to be embracing technology now in any and every way conceivable? Is it acceptable for educators to opt not to use technology in their programs, not to embrace the culture for which they are preparing these students? At what point do we as teachers hold our peers accountable for this choice? Isn’t giving students the technological skills they will need to succeed as important in this day and age as teaching them to read and write?
I am fascinated by the response of teachers when they are asked about the lack of technology in their programs. Invariably we hear responses which point to a personal lack of skills or confidence, or we hear blame placed on “the people” who don’t provide the support needed to make this transition. Our students are going to be faced with a lifetime of conquering new technologies, adapting to the world around them and embracing change. Educators have a wonderful opportunity to model positive attitudes to change, the acceptance of challenges and the need to go beyond their comfort zone. Instead all too many resist and are short changing the very students they are supposed to be servicing.
We have the chance not only to adapt to culture but to create it, and all to often we are refusing the challenge. What message is this sending to our students about what it takes to succeed in life? Why do educators feel it is acceptable for them to ignore the one thing they have a moral obligation to do: give students the skills they need to be successful in life?