Resistance to Change and Teachers – “I just can’t learn technology because it’s too hard.”

I read a quote today:

“Can anyone else think of an employment sector other than K-12 and postsecondary education where employees have the right to refuse to use technology? For example, a grocery store checker doesn’t get to say ‘No thanks, I don’t think I’ll use a register.’ A stockbroker doesn’t get to say, ‘No thanks, I don’t think I’ll use a computer.’ An architect doesn’t get to say, ‘No thanks , I don’t think I’ll use AutoCAD.’ But in education, we plead and implore and incentivize but we never seem to require. In many industries, knowledge of relevant technologies is a necessary prerequisite for either getting or keeping one’s job. Sometimes the organization provides training; sometimes the employee is expected to get it on her own. Either way the expectation is that use of relevant technologies is a core condition of employment. Why aren’t our school organizations expecting more of their employees?…”

-from Dangerously Irrelevant – “Right of Refusal”

I taught in a classroom setting nearly 10 years ago. In one of my first full time positions, there was a huge battle over computers. A few teachers wanted computers in their classrooms. The rest wanted them to remain safely in the computer lab. This larger contingency was, of course, led by the union representatives. It never failed to amaze me that in almost every school I taught at, the worst (bar-none bottom and ditto loving) teachers were always union representatives. I should hope that by now the ranks of the technology resistant within schools is dwindling. Is it still this bad? Or is it getting better.

I’ve heard many arguments from teachers who resist technology, namely they don’t have the time to learn it because they have their handful with classroom management. Though I can attest that I had less problems with classroom management when I was teaching computer lab. My kids wanted to be there to create their interactive presentations and webpages, and I made if very clear to them that if they were doing ‘something outside of what was expected and appropriate’ they would have to return to writing their assignments in the traditional format and do so in the study hall classroom. Oh yeah, no one was allowed to enter the lab without their written and proofread drafts. I never saw so many written drafts completed in so quick a time, and I had very little issue with discipline in this class. I think also, having higher expectations of my kids and their behavior and work might have had something to do with this.

The changes and teacher adoption of technology is happening. On the net I see many excited and enthusiastic educators who are hungry to learn more. I think the resistors will eventually discover that they must adopt change or leave.


2 Responses to “Resistance to Change and Teachers – “I just can’t learn technology because it’s too hard.””

  1. 1 jakprpro March 30, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I worked in public education for the last 15 years, not as a teacher but in a support role helping schools and teachers to use technology for communication and community relations (not instruction). Before working for schools and again now, I worked in the private sector.

    While what you say about some teachers not wanting to adopt the use of technology is true, I must also say that I have seen the behavior everywhere I have worked.

    At my first job at General Motors, I wound up with an IBM PC on my desk because no one else wanted to touch it. Today I work at Balance Technology Group helping clients with websites and other online strategies. I have worked with several clients who use us because they know they need to be on the web to do business, but they have really no interest in any of the hands on work required to get there. We’ll help them get started and, for many, that is as far as they will go.

    Change is coming not as people “leave,” but as they retire from the workforce and new, tech-savvy generations enter and make their mark. Yes, there are many excited and enthusastic (young) educators out there that are bringing change, but the same is true in just about every profession.

    This is a phenomenon that isn’t isolated to K-12 educators.

  2. 2 nkilkenny March 31, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for the terrific and astute observation, Jak. You’re right the resistance isn’t unique to just education. I worked in the semi-conductor industry for seven years and saw it there to… mainly among the support staff in finance, h.r. etc. and not the engineering groups. I read somewhere on I think that many companies are finding that they’re having less problems with viruses, trojan h’s, etc. because the younger generation is a little more savvy about avoiding these things. Companies are finding that the younger folks sure do tax networks because they do a lot of things online and they multitask so well. Just to remind myself that changes are cyclical…I sort of envision a future where I may become the one who’s resistant. I was joke with my friends, that at some point I will be an old stogey when I refuse to interface directly with the technology with my body and mind.

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