Recently at the beginning of a day long workshop, I used a Google form to get feedback on this question:

If there was one part of your personal learning practice that you wanted to focus on today, what would it be? What questions would you seek to answer?

Now I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a perfect question in terms of trying to get some sense of the personal learning lives from the teachers who were participating. But in the context of a discussion we’d been having about the passion-based learning opportunities that the Web now affords, I was hoping to learn what they wanted to think more deeply about when it came to their own interests and their own learning. Unfortunately, most of what I got back (on the first go round at least; I asked them to do it again) was about how to use the tools in the classroom, and very little about what they wanted to learn about learining around their own passions with others who share them.

I know that over the years, I’ve thought about and written about this quite a bit here and elsewhere, this idea that teachers need to see themselves as learners first. In our PLP cohorts, Sheryl and I are constantly working to get teachers to be selfish about the learning at the outset, to not see the experience as simply a way to learn tools that they can then bring into their classrooms. (We didn’t call it “Powerful Tools Practice” for a reason.) And I usually end most of my presentations with that plea as well, most times only to get asked a question about how to overcome the difficulties of making this work in the classroom. It’s always a struggle.

Anyway, it’s interesting to review some of these responses that did attempt to reach beyond tools:

  • How to take the learning practices that I’ve been taught by senior teachers, as I am a new teacher, and make them work in concert with the needs of my students when in the face of so much negative energy from my coworkers?
  • We are dealing with numerous “tools” that help us find, sort and use information in a directed manner. Is there a “best” approach to pulling these together to enable us to better deal with and share these in one place.
  • Interested in gathering ideas about how to motivate groups of teacher to value the importance of developing their own PLN. Often educators understand the idea of developing a PLN but they are not consistent about maintaining it. The shift from sit n’ git to planning a goal and following a custom path seems foreign.
  • I really like having ammunition for the folks who say learning 2.0 is eeeeviiiil, that the state of education is going to pot and literacy is at an all time low.

Obviously, these reflect a lot of the messiness that exists right now around technology and the Web in learning practice. (That’s why I picked them.) But it still leaves me wondering why it’s so hard to get educators in particular to be selfish about this stuff. Maybe it’s not in our DNA?