Monday, August 11, 2008

Why Hate???


Have you ever noticed that many technologies and companies are polarizing? Tonight a former college student of mine was asking me a question because he was interested in purchasing a Mac. The teacher of the class before mine jumped into the conversation and gave us a list of all the things she hates in the world of technology (mostly Microsoft). It made me question where all the hate comes from? I see a lot of hate-type speak in Twitter and Plurk.....and a lot of negativity.

This paragraph shall be devoted to an overly simplistic demonstration.... When I was working at changing the pedals on my bicycle today, I had to change wrenches. The first wrench cut into my hand and I wanted to survive my manual labor with all of my blood intact. I did not get mad at the first tool or its manufacturer.... I didn't write blog articles or rude comments on blog articles about bike wrenches...I just switched to something that didn't hurt. Sure, that is a VERY simplistic comparison, but doesn't it illustrate the folly of the tech world? It's what you do with a tool that matters...Your preference for tools is personal.

There is a lot of Microsoft bashing in the Tech world.... Is it because it has become the standard in the workplace? I think most companies also have a Slingline stapler, I don't think that has made them evil. Maybe your school likes free software...fine with me. But why the hate?

Then there is the Mac vs. PC...... Don't even get me started (though I love the commercials from Apple). I prefer Apple...it fits my style. However, I don't hate PC. I use a PC in my night class. Both have 'skills' that I wish the other had. No reason for hate.

I read with interest a discussion on interactive whiteboards (IWB) on other blogs (here and here). I want a board in the worst way. I have been thinking of selling a kidney or something to try to get one for my classroom. Would having a IWB change the way I teach? Yes..... for the better. I always say "I was constructivist before being constructivist was cool." Would the addition of the board have magical powers and demote me to being the 'sage on the stage?' Of course not. I have deep and rich plans for my imaginary whiteboard...None of them involve me lecturing. However, if one wouldn't work in your classroom, there is no judgment from me.

Now, where I want to see the feelings that rival hate..... I would love it if anger was directed toward the people who give good technology and teaching a bad name. For example, the teacher or principal who puts only page after page of bullets in PowerPoint... (Which I refer to as using a car as a planter....Still serves a purpose, but not exactly using it for the power it has.) Why are these people allowed to go through life without some anger or disrespect? Why does the technology get all that distaste and not the end user?

How about some passionate discourse with the people who don't get their projectors out of the box it came in for seven months -- or the people who purchased that equipment for blindly buying without a purpose? I imagine I could outfit my room with the latest and greatest in educational products if I had 5% of the money that is wasted buying things that don't get used. Or, as Karl Fisch discusses in the world famous blog post, how do people get to be proud they are technologically illiterate?

It seems to me we have a lot of hatred that is misplaced. In my classroom, I want kids to learn in a way that motivates them toward great end products. I want inspiring software that gets kids to think in a different way. I want a classroom that is ALIVE and thrilling. I want kids to be prepared for their future in the world of work and a creative and inspired world outside of work. Let's put the hate behind us and focus on what matters! The brand of the tool matters not - how KIDS use the tool is what matters.


Stop sign from http://www.toytheater.com/road-signs.php

5 comments:

Erica Hartman said...

TJ,
I can relate. I once was teaching a professional development course on creating wikispaces for Language Arts teachers. One teacher who knowingly signed up for this optional class went on a 30 min tirade against how much she hates wikipedia and how it is ruining the world and education. After that outburst, it was hard to get the rest of the class on track. You don't have to like something by why hate it? People who hate need to read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

loonyhiker said...

Great post! My hubby is always saying: "Different strokes for different folks." That doesn't mean one is wrong or worse than another.I hear a lot of the same comparison about special ed and regular ed.

Kate Olson said...

"I would love it if anger was directed toward the people who give good technology and teaching a bad name."
Ouch. While I understand (I think) the underlying argument, I'm always upset to hear ANY discourse of this type and like better your statement at the end where you say, "let's put the hate behind us."

Any dividing line drawn between "good" and "bad" and "technoliterate" and "technoilliterate" will only make it harder and harder to make schools unified. As you say earlier, "Your preference for tools is personal." - is it possible that *some* (not me, by any means) don't choose technology and perhaps shouldn't be punished, but instead possibly enlightened?

Like I said, I do see where you're coming from, but think perhaps that placing the anger on the people is just as wrong? Thanks for making me think about this again :-)

TJ Shay said...

Wow, thank you all for commenting.

Loonyhiker - Good saying. In practice, I do have trouble letting things go.

Kate, I want to thank you especially for helping me to clarify my point. First, I guess I was trying to say if we HAVE to have strong feelings, it should at least be directed at the people who give us all a bad name... Now, what you have to know about me is that I would be willing to help anyone who wanted to change.

The problem I am most troubled by, in 22 years of teaching is that there are some people who never change. I personally know people who I was said had never been inspiring or inspired. It really isn't about the technology for me...It's what you do with it. If someone can be an amazing teacher without technology, I am great with that. Good teaching doesn't require tech. What I get really frustrated by is teachers who are fine with how they have always done something.

Thanks for commenting and helping me to clarify.

T

Ben Hazzard said...

TJ,

What would happen if we used our concerns to create instead of hate? You mentioned the IWB conversation that I was involved in recently. One of the big things I've been working on for the past two years is how can we link these classrooms (now with projects, computers, internet, and even an IWB) together? Please take a look at teachersconnecting.com as my contribution to solve this connection issue.

I often wonder what would happen if we didn't just pontificate or hate, but create. As Dale Carnegie said, "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do."
Theodore Roosevelt (1881) also stated, "the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done."

Discourse online that doesn't contribute should heed the warnings or Carnegie and Roosevelt.

Ben