We are surrounded by division. It festers in our politics, it reveals itself in our economic circumstances, it rolls off the tongue in our communication with one another.
Can I make a request? Can we shut it out of our schools? Can we nurture connectivity in our collegial relationships; regardless of where we reside on the instructional spectrum?
I spoke to a woman last week. She was a veteran teacher. We had just met. When I mentioned my passion for educational technology, she said to me:
"Oh I see. You're one of those guys. Well, you should know that I'm not convinced that just because kids use computers they don't need to learn how to write with a pencil or understand how to spell. I guess I'm just old school. We are a dying breed."
Overtly implicit in this conversation is a premise that doesn't move either of us forward. The premise is, one of us is right...and the other is wrong with respect to blending our classrooms. Oddly enough, this is actually a fairly common interchange in schools. No lie, other "techies" will attest to similar conversations, perhaps less aggressive, but in the same vein.
I'm fascinated by the misconception that many have about folks like me who encourage the use of technology in our classrooms. The assumption is that because we like tech, we think foundational skills are now somehow antiquated and/or somehow less useful than they were in the past. (I can't begin to tell you the number of comments I've heard about handwriting. As though the decline in universal penmanship is somehow my fault.) This couldn't be further from the truth. Think about it, that line of logic is akin to assuming that because I like fruit, I must consider vegetables to be superfluous, and thus favor their elimination from diets across the country. Welcome the new world order everyone! Fruit and technology are modern royalty! To hell with vegetables and foundational writing skills! Those things are "old school!" (He wrote with thick sarcasm.)
Digital leaders can do a better job of communicating our message to the masses. We see immense value in digitally progressive classrooms. We believe they serve to support the building of both traditional and 21st Century academic competencies. In communicating this message with purpose, and executing blended strategies with fidelity, my hope is that traditional learning advocates view each of us as partners in progress. We are allies in the quest to provide the most comprehensive learning experiences possible for our kids. The world of education needs all of us working together for the benefit of children. What it does not need are competitors jockeying for position and trying to prove ourselves "right" at the expense of our colleagues and our kids. Neither skill set is more or less important than the other. They are complimentary, and result in the development of robust competencies for students.
Masterful educators build a willingness to adopt new resources (blended teaching, research, digital tools, etc) atop a strong foundation of traditional academic competencies? Why on earth would we insist on one or the other?