computers, classroom, climbing, etc.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Won't Teachers Learn?

Riffing off an interesting post from Darren Draper at Tech and Learning, himself lauding Dan Meyer's 'What Can You Do With This?' series.

Pulling apart teacher's use of technology with students and with other teachers: Dan Meyer is particularly interesting here, because he is highly tech-savvy and uses "Web 2.0" technologies all the time, but has tons of posts in his blog sceptical to tech use in the classroom. What he is using it for is connecting teachers. Darren Draper's post wondered about teachers' apparant lack of willingness for PD.

The issue is one of willingness to talk about pedagogy or teaching rather than one of technophobia.

Around here there has been some data tossed around lately that indicate teachers are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to learning about their own job. With a weak knowledge base and lots of exciting things going on, you would think that pedagogy would be a hot topic. Instead, teachers sit in the staff room and talk about anything but.

The weak scientific basis for teaching puts us in a tricky position. We know less about what we teach than hordes of specialists in our subject areas, and teaching itself is...well...what exactly is it that we know that others don't? For the young, brave and tenured, this might make pedagogy an exciting topic, but for others, pedagogy becomes a 'no-go' zone.

Three reasons:
1. We risk weakening our own position by exposing the fact that we have a complicated and sometimes shaky basis for doing what we do.
2. An extension of this is that discussions and experiments about what helps learning best might take us to things that look very different from traditional schooling. Scary.
3. Since there is no consensus about what learning is, how it happens or how best to facilitate it, discussions about pedagogy can turn into deep ideological debates. Many teachers sense this and at the same time feel that their jobs are filled with enough conflict already. Anything that could cause conflict or disunity with other teachers is to be avoided.

So it's hard, getting teachers to learn. That's why people like Dan Meyer are so valuable. If you don't have anyone to talk to at your workplace, then join the blogosphere! Get talking.

Thanks, Dan.

(If you are reading this in Norway, and haven't visited Del & Bruk, then go there right now!)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Simon, and a series of interesting thoughts.

    Thanks for taking the time to reflect on this and to share your point of view. I know I'll be thinking more on this and will likely write more about this in the future.