A conversation starter….

and while many agreed with Shelly Blake-Plock’s points about 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete, I found the list a bit long. I felt like a potential jurist waiting for the opposing lawyer to object to a jurist because of his beliefs, his words, or whatever inspires objections.

One of the responses to Shelly’s points included this one, which I’ve anonymized:

Interesting, not sure our districts will have the funding to support some of these initiatives. Plus I would hate to see us cut back on the number of teachers we have in the classroom. For years, as a board member, I fought for lower class sizes at the Secondary level and now our legislators are going to raise the size of the Elementary classes. What are they thinking? Plus they are going to be making much larger cuts in budgets than anticipated??? Part of training for them to be a legislator should be at least two weeks in a classroom (with no help), let them do the modifications, teach the curriculum and deal with over 22 kids in a class. Maybe then they would understand what our teachers and administrators do. To all the Administrators, Teachers and All the other Much Needed Staff thank you for what you do and have a very Happy New Year!!!

This is a traditional response to anyone who criticizes teachers, isn’t it? It’s the “Walk a mile in my shoes before you complain about how I’m doing my job.” In truth, it’s not a bad approach and often sends the message home. I still recall when one technology administrator that I had the good fortune to know, who rabidly criticized teachers for their lack of innovation, decided to teach for a day in high-heeled shoes. Perhaps, she missed the key point of exchanging shoes with the teacher who taught their…SAS comfortable shoes.

The experience transformed her attitude…so much so, I wondered if she’d been brainwashed. Benjamin Disraeli’s words lend a bit of wisdom and insight in these situations….

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

Having taught in K-12 schools, as well as provided support, I understand the many must-attend-to-NOW distractions teachers face. To expect them to transform the “system,” the ecology of indoctrination that characterize our schools, alone is foolish. While the criticism is apparent for legislators, it is also there for technology administrators who fail them. What we are looking for isn’t the illusion of safety, but the opportunity to make mistakes with a support network. I want the risks that give learning its distinctive edge, that engage me…not the placid pool of patient parley that delay my use of Read/Write Web tools and other emerging technologies lauded by my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Thanks for sharing. If I may respond….

Many teachers lack the time and comfort level to innovate successfully with technology. Their failure to employ technology reflects on administrators who have 1) blocked emerging technologies in their districts; 2) failed to engage the community in reciprocal dialogue about technology usage; and 3) not bothered to use the technology themselves. 

These 3 actions prevent teachers’ development of Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), the exploration of rich content on YouTube (Khan Academy is but one example), and employing social media tools to tell the story of teaching, learning and leading in K-12 schools. We sacrifice learning daily upon the altar of political correctness…teaching digital citizenship/cybersafety often means referring to resources inaccessible in schools, like the boogeyman that haunts the ignorant in the dark.

As to lack of funding, here’s a quick summary of what Texas is facing:


Isn’t it time we abandoned buying a server for every app and moved into cloud computing, used free open source software solutions to strategically replace recurring licenses for Microsoft and other products that are used at but a mere 70% of their capabilities? (yes, I made that number up)

As to your points about lower class sizes, Clayton Christiansen’s points out in “Disrupting Class” online learning has great potential. Many Texas districts are using free open source course management system (e.g. Moodle, Sakai) to make online learning a reality. Others are burying their heads in the sand and hoping Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) has no accountability for implementation (it IS law). When will teachers in today’s schools have the support–in-house using free, open source tools now available–to transform teaching and learning through blended instruction? Blended learning–a hybrid of face to face and online learning–has already been shown in the research to be better than either F2F or online. More on virtual schooling in Texas:


And, citing research, consider the lack of adoption of problem-based learning. Ill-structured problems enable learners to develop solutions that are complicated. And, yet, in spite of that, PBL is seldom used in schools as we rush through curriculum, dancing from one tip of the iceberg to the other. Read Zakaria’s article on “How to Restore the American Dream” and you realize how unappetizing cookie-cutter curriculum efforts are for building a globally competitive, or more importantly, collaborative, workforce:


Thanks for reading and sharing. Only through dialogue can we better achieve understanding among all stakeholders.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure