Driving question

November 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

I had lunch with a good friend of mine from Northeast today.

David and I got to know each other when I was assigned as the Instructional Tech Specialist for Krueger Middle School. He was the tech apps teacher for a new magnet program called IMAK. He would pick my brain about what to teach and how to teach it. Had has some great ideas about how kids learn and his classroom was very non-traditional (and not just because it was filled with computers).

We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we had some catching up to do. Our conversation eventually turned to the teacher tech proficiencies, which Texas has guideline for, but no way currently to enforce them.

NEISD started a program last year to bring all of it’s teachers up to par by offering classes from the most basic level, then allow teachers to take an ‘assessment’ (which is just a nicey nice word for a test) to ensure that all of the teachers in the district met the state tech standards for educators.

One of the things David said struck a cord with me – “Dude, no teacher needs to know what a VLAN is. No way a teacher needs to know what a Wide Area Network is.”

And it’s 100% true.

And none of those things are in the Technology Application Standards for Beginning Teachers. But they’re in the standards at NEISD.

And herein lies the problem. The state standards are so vaguely worded that districts feel like they have to cover all of their bases when trying to prepare existing teachers for what’s coming down the pipe.

I can see, maybe 10 years ago, that a teacher would need to know a lot about the inner workings of the computer, because those things crashed all the time. It’s probably the same reason we have so many teachers who are afraid of technology. They “broke” it once before the stuff was (generally) foolproof. Now, however, David is absolutely right. Your average Joe doesn’t need to know the technical side of things inside and out. Maybe they need to have a general idea of how a network works, but they certainly don’t need to know everything about it.

The problem is this: the people making the rules have never been just average users. They’re power users. They’re tech experts. They’re geeks, and I’m sorry, but those folks shouldn’t be making the rules about what you need to know about technology. Being able to use it effectively should be enough.

Let me put it this way. It’s like going for your driver’s exam, and after driving the speed limit, using your turn signal, wearing your seat belt, checking your blind spot and acing the driving part of the driving exam, having the proctor tell you, “Great job, now let’s pop the hood and why don’t you tell me a bit about what an injection valve does. Show me how to change your spark plugs.”

NO NO NO NO No No No No no no no no no!

In order to be licensed to drive, you need to know how to drive. You need to know how to use the tool to get you from point A to point B without killing anyone.

To use technology, you need to know how to drive it. You need to know how to use the tool to get your kids from point A to point B without killing anyone.

Two things need to happen here. 1) The state needs to clarify their standards. Make them as specific as the TEKS for kids. Don’t leave anything up to interpretation. 2) Stop letting people who have never been in a classroom decide what teachers in the classroom need to know.

By the way, can anyone help me figure out how to change my fuel filter…I think it’s got some gigabit stuck in it.

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