Monday, June 29, 2015

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to. Alice: I don't much care where. The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go. Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere. The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

Saturday, in our annual "Hack Education" unconference at ISTE, I proposed and held a session on "Tech-Ped": technology adoption driven by pedagogy. In other words, how can the education world become more like the Amish--deciding what our core values are, and then making technology decisions based on those values?

Radical thought, I know.

The Amish aren't, from what I understand, anti-technology. They just start by having some in their community test out a new technology, they then evaluate whether they think it is going to help or hurt their core values, and finally they make a decision about when and how to use it.

One gentleman said he thought that most schools were good at doing this. I asked the group. Pretty unanimously they said, "no, usually we're told some money has freed up, what should we buy?"

Neurons fired in my brain.

"Wait," I said. "How many of you actually work in a school where there even exists a defined belief in learning that you could use to measure a technology decision?" Not a hand went up.

As it turned out, there was one school that did. (More on that another day, worth telling). And most individual teachers, the group agreed, adopt technology based on their own personal beliefs about learning. But at an institutional level, technology decisions are typically not being weighed against a set of stated beliefs about learning.


(One then has to ask the question, what about all the other decisions that most schools make?)

Not having stated beliefs about learning doesn't mean you don't actually have shared beliefs. But it makes it much more likely that your shared beliefs are not the healthy, proactive kind, but probably the benign, this-is-just-how-we-do-things kind, and maybe even some of the less-healthy kind.

It would be interesting to ask, what are the unstated beliefs in your school and how do they manifest themselves?

Let's be blunt: if you aren't intentionally building together a culture of learning as a school, what in the world are you doing, and what do you expect to accomplish?

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