Alex Reid has a pretty provocative post at his Digital Digs blog that looks more deeply at some of the reasons this all is such a struggle. Here’s one section that jumped out to me:
In other words, they [his students] continue to view their profession as one that will be founded on a discrete, unchanging body of information that they will acquire before graduating. We might all deride the notion of the teacher/professor reciting the same lectures and lessons plans year after year, but somehow this does not alter this belief that a degree will certify us once and for all as authorities. Sure, all these teacher-students recognize that they will gain experience as teachers, learn helpful tips along the way, and become better practitioners. But this development of practice is separated from the acquisition of authoritative knowledge.
And this faith exists in both K-12 and college faculty.
The threat of the network is the dissolution of this authority. The ongoing development of media and networks requires us to keep moving. It doesn’t mean that what we’ve learned has no value; it means that it cannot establish us as authorities. We cannot imagine the classroom as resting upon a core body of knowledge. We are engaged in a technocultural shift that shakes the very foundations of epistemology: what began as a philosophical critique in theory now becomes a material condition.
I think that does speak to something that I’d been feeling below the surface but hadn’t really seen clearly. We are asking teachers in large measure to abdicate their authority in the classroom, at least in the content sense. And what then remains to be authoritative about?
Yesterday at Seton Hall, Alan showed a Marco Torres video of preservice teachers talking about their expectations, and one alluded to the idea of teaching being a flexible role between teaching and learning. That we should look at ourselves at varying times as teachers and as learners, and that students can play both of those roles as well. I think we have to approach our roles in the classroom with a “We’re all in this together” attitude, and not “I’m the expert; get ready to learn” one. But that has little to do with technology and has everything to do with re-envisioning what this is all about.
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