Recently during a presentation a teacher raised his hand and asked what is a fairly common question.
“Look, I agree with most of what you’re saying, but I’ve got kids in my class who don’t have the devices, who don’t have the access,” he said. “What are we supposed to do when every student can’t do this?”
I could hear in the voice of the questioner that this lack of access was offered not as a problem to solve but as a reason for inaction, an excuse to maintain the status quo. Normally, the answer I give to that question includes the words “moral imperative” and “digital divide” or some other fairly typical phraseology that tries to honor the challenge, but this time, for some reason, I just looked at the person and said “Great question. How you going to fix that?”
I think that’s going to be my new strategy, actually, for all of the “yeah buts.”
“My students’ parents don’t approve of these technologies.” I hear ya’. How you gonna fix that?
“I don’t have time to do all of this.” That is a problem. What are you going to do about that?
“My superintendent/principal/supervisor doesn’t have a vision for these types of changes.” Yeah, that stinks. So, how you gonna help her with that?
We say we want our kids to be problem solvers, but all too often, when faced with the challenges of a changing educational landscape, we don’t offer solutions. Instead, we offer excuses as to why we shouldn’t solve the problem, why it’s better to just keep on keepin’ on. And solving these problems is getting easier and easier, actually, as more and more schools have already done the heavy lifting to find and implement solutions. It’s not like anyone needs to reinvent the wheel any more. And it’s also not like you need a solution overnight, either. Frame the problem, create a timeline and a process, and have at it. If you had say, two years, is there really NO way to solve that access problem?
I know at some level you have to see all of this as a “problem” to solve. You have to REALLY want those kids to have access. You have to look at the world and the ways in which information and communication are changing, and the ways that online communities and networks are becoming powerful learning opportunities, and the move to digital texts and products and look at your school and classroom and have that “Houston, we have a problem moment.” But once you do that, it becomes your problem to solve, not someone else’s.
So yeah, you’ve got challenges. What are you gonna do about it?