Why do we have to treat teachers like kids?  There is a discussion going on in Twitter about getting teachers to use technology.  We have to provide mentors, we have to model, we have to encourage, we have to provide an environment that supports mistakes, we have to encourage them to use the kids, we have to encourage it’s use…Seriously folks!

Around where I live a couple hundred years ago there were farmers everywhere.  I am sitting where sheep once grazed.  As the 19th Century progressed farming methods changed.  Some farmers experimented and used the new methods their neighbors were using.  Some read the new journals and books that were being published and used the new methods in a trial and error method.  Still others simply experimented on their own and developed new implements and methods on their own.  You know what happened to all the rest that refused to change?  They disappeared.  They had to give up farming because their old methods and outdated crops simply could not turn a profit.   It is still happening around me with farms.  There are many successful farms, they have embraced new technology but more importantly they have anticipated the needs of their local market and are producing what that market wants and needs. Many small farms are opening in my state.  They are being run by a different type of farmer who looks to the future, who learns constantly, who embraces the advantage that technology can give, who uses new marketing tools, who provide their customers with new and unique items, who change with the needs of their customers, farmers who don’t have to be told to change in order to survive–they just get it.  They go out and find mentors, work on other folks farms with roles models, read and study new research, and enter the business knowing that they are going to make mistakes and in order to survive they will have to learn and change from them.

Maybe instead of spending so much time cajoling teachers into using technology we should just stop and let nature take its course.  Maybe we should just let them disappear.  My big ol’ guess is that the same people we are complaining about have problems much bigger than they just don’t integrate tech.   Maybe we should just let evolution take its course and they will go extinct and be replaced by a leaner meaner breed of teachers who just “get it” and focus our attention on them.  Focus our attention on changing hiring practices.   Focus our attention on preservice teachers.  What if everyone who wants change became a cooperating teacher and worked with student teachers? What if everyone leading PD volunteered to go into a college class?

Seriously folks, why should we spend so much time changing stubborn teachers.   Let them go extinct.

PS-I believe this post represents the first time I have used the word cajole

PSS-This post represents the views of Paul’s alter-ego, the one he would like to be somedays when he is frustrated, not the one that represents him every day at school.  While Paul’s alter-ego would like those ol’ stubborn coots to go extinct, Paul’s other ego will continue to help out and offer PD as much as he can.  As a matter of fact he has submitted submissions for four workshops just in the last week alone.  He believes that even flocks of Dodos should be given a second chance for survival.

PSS-You don’t need tech to be a powerful teacher


  1. Seriously, really?

    This is all fine and dandy, however the vast majority of the teachers, (at my school), that need to “disappear” are around your age and slightly younger. If we wait for them to “disappear”, its the students that suffer, the school suffers, and ultimately — society suffers.

    Do you really want to wait that long? I sure don’t.

    1. The reality of the situation drives me crazy. You are right. But at the same time I wonder if 20 years from now how we would benefit from having spent our time focusing on those who want to change, and those who are not even hired yet. If we had an all out effort to change the stubborn teachers, what percentage would be teaching differently in 20 years? If we focused on the newer and the type of teachers we hire we would in 20 years have a staff of progressive teachers.

  2. so many discussions like this mornings on twitter – so many ways of saying that teachers cannot let go of being central/pivotal/controlling. so many buzzwords all implying the centrality of the teaching role.

    time for simplification – autonomous learners.

    every incompetent teacher is an insult AND an injury to many children. let them go away.

    go with the instincts of the alter ego

  3. This is a thought-provoking post, and I think you make a good point. It has always been so that those who refuse to innovate are, to borrow Ashley Wilkes’s language in Gone with the Wind, “winnowed out.” I hear your frustration, and I feel it’s common. The technology department at our school along with two tech-savvy teacher (a phenomenal social studies teacher and me) are going to do Lunch and Learn sessions to help our faculty learn more about the tools. We can lead a horse to water, and all that, so we’ll have to see what the results are.

  4. One of the problems is that those who don’t use technology (or for that matter, those who don’t buy into WHATEVER it is that the education gurus suggest is important to student success) … those teachers DON’T disappear. They just get older and become veteran staff members who sometimes think their opinion should carry more weight just because they’ve been around the block. There is no way to “speed” their disappearance, yet every school has experienced the unfortunate situation where there is a line of parents at the principal’s office because they don’t want their child to have Mr X for a teacher because he doesn’t “do” anything cool with the kids. Instead they want Mr Y, whose reputation precedes him.
    THAT’S why we try to bring the teachers along – to help make Mr. X less of a liability for the kids unlucky enough to be stuck in his class.

  5. It is unfortunately true that the tendency of a teacher to stay in teaching is not highly correlated with their competence. It is also true that the competence of a teacher is not highly correlated with their willingness to embrace technology.

    There are many fine teachers who do not use high-tech teaching, and many high-tech teachers who are incompetent. Please don’t confuse your preferred teaching style with competence—even if you are highly competent, the style you use will not work for all teachers.

    1. If we are supposed to be “preparing kids for the real world” and “real world” includes technology, how can we prepare them without having them use it?

      Using technology isn’t my preferred style. Technology = tools, tools I use within my style of teaching. I think it is a misconception that ones style is dictated by what tools one uses. If you are doing authentic learning, and creating products that are “real world,” it is nearly impossible not to use technology in the classroom.

  6. I think we all have an alter-ego who we battle with inside ourselves Paul. I love that you’ve used your blog to exercise this–would it be a demon? Tech is great, but finding good teaching should be at the top of our compass! Thanks!

  7. Finally, someone said it out loud. I have been sitting here over fall break catching up, relaxing, and fretting over how to reach some teachers in my building after countless, futile tries. I feel set free! “You can lead a horse….” and then it’s up to them, no longer my problem, unless they take a step and put forth some effort to change, learn and ask for help. Thank you!

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