Friday, August 1, 2014

Arm-Folding Luddites

Last week I attended a workshop given by an Apple exec. in which he extolled the virtues of issuing  iPads to undergraduates when they enter college so that virtually everything they do during their college education can be done virtually on their iPads. I like the iPad as both a teaching tool and for recreation and it would be neat to see how this could work through a pilot study at St. Mike's.

What I found particularly interesting and something that caused me to stop and think seriously was the Apple exec's use of the term "Luddite". He seemed like a really bright chap, the sort that has probably done a TED talk and, for the life of me, I cannot remember or locate his name. What he said that caused me to stop and think was that he really enjoys the challenge of the "arms-folded-Luddites" he comes across as he spreads the word of the use of  all-encompassing personal computing technology.

As I quickly unfolded my arms and looked around to see who else was engaged in the same activity I immediately felt challenged; am I an arm-folding Luddite?  As my years advance I become more conscious of  the increasing difficulty of keeping up with the changes. I've been learning how to use Canvas, the electronic communication program that has replaced eCollege this week, and it seems to be going OK. So, in terms of learning new things I still seem to be cognitively able to do it given the right learning environment and support.

Then I started thinking about my professional life as a teacher. I recalled my first years of teaching as a 4th grade teacher in England in a school where there were 3 other teachers in their middle to late 60s where I am now. Two of them, both male teachers, had taught 5th grade the same way each year for 30 years. even the books they used were published in the late 1940s. The third, a female first grade teacher, and I wish i could recall her name, had modified and adapted her teaching each year to keep up with changes in pedagogy and the prevalent local culture. She had embraced multiculturalism, new teaching methods and had, along with us all, tried and rejected New Math in  the early 70s.

As I think about the theories and practices upon which I base my teaching I think I am like the female teacher I admired all those years ago. At least I hope I am.  

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