An observation

I’m on school holidays at the moment, and loving every minute of it I don’t mind saying. It’s a time to catch up on things, like appointments for your kids that you can’t schedule in school term time because you’re working and are committed to the work you do, and you feel guilty if you take a day off to do something like visit the dentist. So instead, you pack your holiday breaks full of appointments like this, and your kids appreciate the fact that you care for them. : )

(For the record, I just have to admit that this backfired for me when I booked an appointment for my daughter, only to have the dental clinic claim no knowledge of this  so I have had to schedule an in term appointment- at the end of a school day – of course!)

I was at one such dental appointment with my son the other day, and found myself struck by the changing nature of dental practice. The dental assistant was recording the state of my son’s teeth via a computer program, and the dental tools were all hygienically sealed before they were used. Most of what needed to be done was preventative work; seals on teeth and the like, things that were unheard of in my youth when I was subject to amalgam filling after amalgam filling, and root canal treatment. It was pretty obvious that the dental profession has moved a long way in recent years.

While I sat there and took it in, I thought about resistance to change many of us encounter in education. Can other professions resist change as much as some educators do? I’ve heard the following stated many times before, but it’s so true. We wouldn’t tolerate the people looking after our health to not be up to date with current thinking, so why do we tolerate educators not being up to speed with current ideas about educational practice?

8 Replies to “An observation”

  1. You make a great point! I am amazed how much my dentist uses the computer now. When my teeth are cleaned, everything is done from one computer by this one person. I no longer have to go from one person to another. All my xrays are right there instantly for them to see. We have come a long way from when I was little. If we can be that efficient with my teeth, why can’t we educate students efficiently too?

  2. It is not just the dentist but my car mechanic now has a really amazing diagnostic set up online in his rather dusty garage!. But you are right going to the dentist is a high tech adventure now. Last time I visited I had on screen vision of what was being done as the dentist worked.

  3. But what does it mean to be “up-to-date” or “efficient” with respect to education? My daughter’s school has lots of fancy computer equipment. It’s cool and the kids like it, and they’re learning computer skills that will be useful to them in probably any field; but I don’t think that the equipment and what they do with it it are more important than what good teachers and schools can do without all that.
    I also work for the National Education Policy Center, an organization that is completely “up-to-date” on current research about what works and what doesn’t in education (we commission and publish high quality research and also review work published by other organizations; see Trust me, there are a lot of people (policy makers and people who try to influence them) who don’t want to hear it because it conflicts with what they want and/or believe.

    1. Hi Faith,
      You recognise that the kids are “learning computer skills that will be useful to them in probably any field”. To my way of thinking, kids today are going to be entering workplaces where computers are intrinsic to their job performance. Not only that, kids today are using computers as their means of social connectedness. If we as teachers can use computers effectively in our classes to help them understand how new tools can help them to organise their work processes more efficiently, and if we can use them to help them gain a better understanding of how you interact appropriately in networks so that you nurture your digital footprint and not damage it, then I think we will serving our students well. I want this for my children, and I don’t see how a teacher who isn’t using and understanding new technologies can deliver it.
      I don’t disagree that there are wonderful teachers out there who do a great job teaching their content area and inspiring children without the use of technology in their classrooms, but my preference would be for a hybrid mix of quality teaching coupled with implicit understanding of how you use the technology to have your students become proficient users and creators of high quality content that they can share with others.


  4. Hi Jenny.
    Sure, the integration you suggest is ideal. And my impression is also that you’re on the front lines helping teachers conceptualize and make the most of the technology at their disposal. That’s wonderful.
    If you’re suggesting that ed schools spend time and effort training teachers to be comfortable integrating technology into the curriculum, and that schools support that as well, I’m totally with you. Technology is a central part of their lives, and kids need to learn how to use it well and responsibly.
    My concerns are two:
    1. That schools are not always as thoughtful as you about the kind of integration you’re suggesting. I think you would agree that it’s important to encourage them to be thoughtful, however.
    2. With the dearth of funding (alas!), that acquiring technology would trump such basic low-tech options as hiring more teachers. But to the extent we can do everything, absolutely.

    1. Thanks for coming back and replying Faith. Sounds like we’re on the same page. I share your concerns. Human capital in our schools is vitally important, we just have to do our best to ensure the human capital has the required skill set. : )

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