You are a geek

In my “Drafts” I have over twenty posts in various states of completion—most will whither away.  I decided to take this one out of the box as-is and see what kind of comments it elicits….

So let’s get started again…where was I…ahhhh…that’s right–You are a Geek

That’s right, if you are reading this you are probably a geek.  You stick out like a sore thumb for how you teach.  I have noticed at the end of the last few conferences I have attended that everyone mentions how hard it will be to go back to their schools because they don’t quite fit in—they felt so at ease with the people at the conference and they will now have to go back to work where they can’t even eat in the teacher’s room. Has that ever happened to you?  Do you know why?  Because you are a geek.  You are not one of the cool kids, you don’t think and do what everyone else does.

Seriously, that is the strength and weakness of the geek movement.  There used to be lots of people a year or two ago writing about why so few people are moving to integrate technology in their classrooms and how we should convince them.  Well, that would be like the kids on the chess club going into the locker room and telling the football players why they should use a highlighter when they read.  I am thinking that the chess players would exit the locker room with their heads highlighted.  I know that I am coming close to the point where I can no longer understand someone who is a traditional textbook, workbook, quiz, test, coercive consequence classroom management plan teacher. I don’t know if I can sell my style of teacher that type of teacher.  So what if we approached convincing teachers to use more technology in class the same way a company brands a product?

Make a connection with a somatic marker of some sorts. People make most of their decisions subconsciously based on past experiences–make the connection emotional.  When you mention technology, what comforting memory can they reflect back upon?  What have they experienced and forgotten or not even noticed that you can appeal to deep in the subconcious regions of their body?

Create an image of what using technology in a classroom looks like.  One image.  Mention using technology in a classroom and everyone should see the same thing in their head. It should look natural and attainable by everyone.

Don’t tell people to use technology because it’s “better” or it will improve student achievement.  That implies what people are currently doing in classrooms is wrong.  People resist being fixed.

Make people wonder about using it.  Don’t give answers, give them questions.  Open possibilities, don’t give them stuff. 

Get a cool kid to start using it.  People don’t imitate geeks.  I am a geek at my school.  If no one respects what I do or what I believe it is awful hard to get people to join my club.  Nobody wants to be in the geek club unless they have been thrown out of the cool kid gang.  No one at my school has ever asked me about anything I do.  Whether a question about integrating technology, or my holistic style of classroom management. When someone new comes into the school they automatically imitate the cool club.  No one wants to join my club. It would not provide them with a sense of security.  Joining the geek squad makes someone feel insecure.  Why else do all the geeks work twelve hours a day trying to improve their teaching and learning new things?  Because they are not part of the club that has control and offers safety, geeks bury their head in their work and call it “passion.”  That gives them control, that gives them some sense of security.

Our brain is filled with mirror neurons that make us want to be like and be liked by everyone else by following the established tradition of rules, not the exception to the rule.  Geeks are the exceptions to the rules.  I guess geeks will always be geeks.  By the time all of the cool kids have joined their club, the geeks will have formed another one.

Does school 2.0 need an affirmitive action program?

Seventeen years ago a few months into my first teaching job, I was standing in an assembly when I realized something.  I was the only white dude in the room.

I was looking around Twitter today at who other people follow and I had the same feeling come back.  There are only white dudes in the “Twitter room.”  I could not find anyone who was not.  Out of every class that I have collaborated with this year only one person was an African American. Then I thought about the blogs I read, the wikis I check out, and the podcasts I listen to.  Same deal as the Twitter room.  What’s up with that?