Ponder the following…

“Are we doing what is best for our students,

or are we doing what is most convenient for us?”


There are many things to consider regarding this question, originally asked by Dr. Scott McLeod on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog, in May 2007. So, it’s important to truly think about the infinite variables that contribute to teaching students and take some time to ponder. After ample pondering, it is time to proclaim our thoughts and put them to practice!

Hundreds of visions, ideas, memories, and tidbits of  information circle in my mind, as I ponder this question.  I ask myself a series of short secondary questions to help me gather my thoughts and proclaim my answer to this question. Why do we do what we do when we teach? The quick answers I come up with is tradition and history.  Then, I think about the change I have experienced as a student. And I ask myself , am I a different student than I was 15, 20 or 30 years ago? The quick and short answer is YES! Lastly, I think of one more, slightly longer, two-part question.  a) What changes will my kids see in the next 15 years and b) how does that compare with the changes my parents saw as they went from elementary to junior high and on to high school? a)Major changes. b) Major difference.

In corralling all the thoughts circling in my mind, I think the word convenient is really quite tied to tradition and history. Any teacher that truly has the students’ best interest in mind would be happy to forgo some convenience, if the extra work and effort resulted in, more engaged, better prepared and more successful students.  So, I feel many teachers simply continue on the path laid before us. It was the way our parents were taught and the way their parents were taught. So, why reinvent the wheel? Another question for later!

Next, I ponder from my point of view as a student. Overall, I feel some of my teachers, over the years, were making efforts to step away from what is safe, traditional and convenient. However, not every teacher was ready or willing to let go of tradition and that is still true today. This effort should not be looked at as saying goodbye to traditional, safe and convenient; but instead it should be an approach to integrate technology and 21st century thinking into every teachers’ current framework. This should be a continual process over each teachers’ career.

Lastly, it really is all about the changes occurring around us and the need for education to keep up or at least try to catch up with these changes. The changes in technology seen by my parents will be only a tiny percent of the changes my children will see.  So, now is not time to reinvent the wheel, but instead to make modifications to the wheel to function better in the changing world around us.  More specifically, this does not necessarily mean every student must have every new educational gadget at their disposal.   But instead, every teacher today should make clear and substantial efforts to integrate technology into their own classroom.

It is true a mixture of many variables must be considered when answering “Are we doing what is best for our students, or are we doing what is most convenient for us?”  In conclusion, I think it is safe to say YES! we are doing what is best for our students and not doing what is most convenient for us, IF we follow these three general criteria: 1–understand our traditional, safe and convenient methods are not necessarily bad and can be our framework, 2– integrating technology and 21st century thinking should be a continual process over each teachers’ career and 3–we are truly testing and practicing our ideas in our own classrooms today, embracing change and continuing to reevaluate our methods.





Categories: Module 1 | Tags: | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Ponder-Proclaim-Practice-Repeat

  1. Hi Kim!
    You had a lot of profound thoughts and excellent points in your blog! Good job! Your tie-ins to tradition and history influencing the way we teach in 2012 reminded me of some points made in a course i took last semester. We used the book How Teachers Taught: Constancy and Change in American Classrooms 1890-1990 (http://www.amazon.com/How-Teachers-Taught-Constancy-Classrooms/dp/0807732265/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1327013719&sr=8-9). It is so frustrating to see how little the structure of teaching has changed! Can you believe that almost 100 years ago, teachers and advocates then were pushing for more student-centered cooperative learning environments?! This scares me to think in those terms of integrating technology into our classes. Unlike student-centered versus teacher-centered, there shouldn’t be a debate with integrating technology in our classrooms. It is a given. Technology is all around us and by not preparing our students to be able to adapt and work within that realm, we are doing a disservice to future generations.

    Also, I never thought about the changes my parents saw in my education from elementary to middle and on up into high school. What an interesting thought! Your points make me want to ask my parents about it. I don’t have any kids of my own yet but I have seen some drastic changes just in the last year in my 11 year old cousin who lives near me. She is uploading videos to YouTube, editing photos, and uses her smartphone to make Facebook comments. Your reflections on changes in education throughout just a few years reminds me just how important it is for me to get comfortable with exploring and playing around with the latest trends. It took losing a bet for me to get on Facebook. It took this class for me to get on Twitter. Hopefully, I’m learning to be more adventurous through eme5050.

    ~Bren Harkins

  2. Lydia

    I was touched by and felt connected to several things in your blog. I too, when pondering the question put before us, thought a lot about convenience. I liked what you said about some teachers just going with what is traditional. In my blog I briefly highlight some reasons a teacher might stick with convenience, but I hadn’t thought of tradition. However, this goes along with the reading in saying that our schools are still geared towards preparing students for the Industrial Age instead of the Digital Age. I will uncomfortably engage in newer methods, but I find that like many things, after practice the awkwardness falls away. I guess some teachers lean towards traditional only because this brief struggle is a bit overwhelming.

    Your answer of yes we are doing what’s best for our students was great as it was followed by reasoning to support your view and guidelines that prove your point. I thought #1 was brilliant as your stated that all traditional methods aren’t bad. I believe that technology is icing on the cake because it doesn’t a good teacher make. I guess continually developing ourselves as people and teachers can help us to blend the traditional with the new.

    I also liked # 2 that integrating technology should be a continual process. Just like all aspects of teaching we have to keep learning and changing to be good at the craft of teaching. This is also really relevant because we all know how quickly technology changes. This makes it even more important that we are willing to keep learning to integrate technology.

    I really did enjoy your post and look forward to working with you more this semester.

  3. Erika handler

    I feel like no matter what we do technology is always going to change. Versions of a program will be updated or a newer model might replace the old one. Things were definitely not the same now as when I was in Elementary school (16 years ago), no one taught me how to use a computer or how to surf the web. How are we supposed to “prepare” students if technology is inevitably always going to change? Makes it difficult for us, doesn’t it?

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