A teacher by any other name

Thanks to Ryan at Metanoia (and Techlearning) I have started another blog. Recently he presented a “push for teachers to stop waiting for the organization and become a collaborative professional learner.” One portion of his theses is that as professionals teachers should maintain a public professional learning space. I like the general idea but I have some reservation about both the technological and the personal aspects.

Technologically my reservation centers around a feeling, maybe even a fear, that the social web is hype. Just like many past educational theories I feel that the concept of Web 2.0 has become a talisman. Just because 100’s or 1000’s of teachers are linking to each other’s blogs and posting small “keep up the good work” messages doesn’t mean things are improving. Yes there is benefit in keeping up with the conversation within the profession. Certainly this can be made easier through aspects of the social web. On the other hand I would rather see people learning and DOING things instead of talking about them.

While Ryan dismisses the issue of time and time pressures I have to disagree. While there are times that we need to ignore protestations by students, colleagues, or ourselves there are also situations when it is important to recognize that time is limited. One of the lessons that I try to teach my kids is that they need to learn to prioritize, to learn make value judgments. All students would say that doing a physics problem set is more important then playing Halo 3. Most will make the “correct” call when its calculus versus basketball also although sometimes they need to be reminded of their goals first. Yet when it come to physics versus calculus the ranking is less clear. I find I can not fault either choice.

Similarly I find it hard to judge poorly a teacher who is striving to teach and to learn but is not striving to communicate. The learning and then actiing on the learning is the important part. Spreading the word can be done by those with a passion for such things.



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