November 6, 2006

Will Richardson has a bad day

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:18 pm

Will Richardson is usually is a pretty upbeat guy. But this post might make you think otherwise. He’s a bit frustrated as we all are at times. It may have been a bad day. The Monday morning quarterback in me would guess it had something to do with the encounter with a teacher he mentions later in the post. Whatever the reason, he makes some great points:

there are thousands of teachers, tens of thousands in fact, who are already using the tools with their students. I see new examples every day. But I’m still bothered by the fact that very, very rarely do I see new pedagogies to go along with them that prepare students for the creation of their own learning networks.

That’s why I spend time showing cupboards. But teachers want to get their hands on these tools for the same reason they want to go to a conference and find that one thing they can implement in their classroom tomorrow. When teachers see blogs and think it would be a great way to post my newsletter, I’ll say, “Yes, you can do that but that’s not really what blogs can do“. It’s like using a _________ only for _______. (I know there’s a great metaphor but just couldnt think of a good one right now). When we use blogs in this way it really is a waste. This is not change. It’s not going to impact learning.

Recently, I had a teacher tell me that she spent about 10 minutes a day online and that frankly, that was quite enough. She said that she’s not going to sacrifice the other things that she already does in her life to spend more time on the Internet. I wanted to say, as Yochai Benkler says in the Wealth of Networks, you have the “greatest library in human history” at your fingertips. You have a billion potential teachers. You have an opportunity to learn in ways that you or I could not even have dreamed of when we were in school. And you have an opportunity to shepherd your students into a much more complex, much messier, and much more profound world of learning in ways that will help prepare them more powerfully for the world they face.

10 minutes isn’t enough. This blog entry alone has taken up about 1 hour from the time I read the original post, rummaged around the comments, read the trackbacks, thought, edited, looked up references, formatted and posted. But as an educator, we need to make the decision about what is important and right now many feel curriculum and high stakes testing is not allowing for this. I’m going to be talking to senior administrators tomorrow about beginning to blog. I know that they’ll ask when they’re supposed to find time to blog. My response will be, ” When do you have time to answer emails, the phone, have a conversation? You don’t have a choice about those things. I don’t think you have a choice about this.”

I asked my daughter’s teacher if there were opportunities for her class to work on extended projects, projects that in the end would have a purpose beyond the grade and the classroom. Projects that, to quote Marco again, would “have wings.” The response I got was this: with all of the objectives that must be met for the state tests coming up in the spring, there just isn’t time for it. When I asked my son’s teacher whether she had read his blog, her answer was that blogs were blocked at school and so, no, she hadn’t.

My daughter wanted to show her class her blog and the note came back from her teacher saying, “the site is blocked at our school”.

Be sure you read the full post and the comments. Great discussion. Will, I feel your pain. Tomorrow’s a new day.

Image Citation:
Wilson, Tim. “An Evening with Will Richardson.” Tim Wilson’ Photostream. 27 Dec 2005. 6 Nov 2006