Geek vs teacher

Over at TeachPaperless there is another great post entitled Hire Geeks.  In it he makes some great points:

I want teachers who are curious, experimental, sophisticated, and engaged. ‘Lifelong learner’ sounds like someone taking a woodshop class at the retirement home.

What we really need is to be recruiting more geeks.

I’m talking about folks who don’t have to be ‘trained’ in using technology. I’m talking about people who live and breathe social media and don’t understand how you live without it.

I couldn’t agree more!  It isn’t enough to know how to create a  powerpoint.  We aren’t going to keep out kids involved, much less motivate them to really take ownership of their learning if we are teaching the way we have been forever.  We need to change education, and the only way to do that is to change the people who are teaching.

Now, I am almost 59 years old.  I am not a “digital native”.  You can’t accuse me of not understanding how “foreign” some of this stuff is, how easy it is to fall behind technologically.  But I am also proof that it can be done.  No matter who we are, we can embrace technology in our personal lives if we want to.

I don’t think that being a geek necessarily makes you a good teacher.  But I think that you have to be a geek today if you want to really be an effective teacher.  (I know I am overstating this.  It isn’t entirely true.  There are exceptions.  But on the whole, I stand by my statement. )  A teacher who is a geek can teach children what they need to know in a way that speaks to them and motivates them.  Whether it is through digital storytelling or blogging or wikis or whatever, a teacher who is a geek can find some way to meet the students where they are and help them to move beyond that.  A teacher who is a geek can create an environment in the classroom that draws on the interests of the students and makes learning more enjoyable.

He goes on to say:

It is painfully obvious to our kids that certain teachers have no clue when it comes to the integration of technology into their classrooms.

And more ‘training’ ain’t gonna help.

Because before you integrate technology into your classroom, you’ve got to integrate it into your life.

And you should only integrate it into your life in ways that you need and/or want to. The worst thing we can do as a society is to force people into the use of technology — particularly social technologies — via training and tech mandates.

That’s like forcing a democracy upon another country.

Not a good idea.

Rather, we should model the best practices in the use of technology and give folks the room they need to experiment with the tools so that they can develop personal relationships with them.

This is one of the reasons that I believe social media are better than Blackboard in the classroom.  No one is going to use Blackboard outside of a class setting.  You aren’t going to develop a personal relationship with it.  You cannot really ever deveop the level of familiarity with it that you can with blogging or wikis.  You can become more familiar, yes, but it is still an artificial relationship.

We need teachers for whom technology is like breating: necessary.  It cannot be something we bring out of the closet once in a while so we can tall someone we are using technology.  We have to be geeks.

Check out the post at TeachPaperless.  Be sure to read the comments, too; they are quite interesting.

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