A Teaching vs. Technology Trade Off?

A recent “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog post by Scott McLeod (@mcleod) shared the “Dilbert” column above with the following thought he had previously shared:

In many job sectors, employees are expected to keep up with relevant technologies or risk job loss. When do we require that of K-12 and post-secondary educators? At what point do we say to them “No, we are not training you how to use this. It’s easy enough for you to learn on your own. And if you don’t, we’ll find someone else who can.”

Recently my Expanding Boundaries cohorts and I have been developing a mock grant proposal with a central focus of teacher professional development in software, technology use and its application in the classroom. I found McLeod’s blog post to be extremely relevant and one that might crumble the foundations of our proposal should a retort to such a question from a application review committee not be readily available.

The comments to McLeod’s own blog post ranged from full support to due caution. I think my own personal opinion fell along the line of Tim Lambert’s comment who suggested that the statement may be a bit harsh, but “I don’t have a problem with people who need help to learn something, if they KNOW they need to learn it, REALIZE they need help to learn it, ASK for the help, then FOLLOW THROUGH on their commitment to learn.”

Indeed, this is seemingly what we implore our own students to do every day. Ask questions when you need help and follow through by putting the received assistance to good use. Still, the questions make me ponder how much and educator’s ability to use tech tools should weigh into employment decisions. I personally suspect that I might hire a teacher with an expert background in subject and teaching practices over another who held a tremendous technology resume but lacked an understanding of the content they were to instruct and assess upon.

There is no doubt an area the shade of gray that any hiring body or official must come to tackle at one point or another. I wonder about others perspectives on such a dilemma. Given the emphasis we have placed on developing 21st century skills into our student’s skill sets, how much should an administrator or search committee weigh an applicants technological aptitude compared to their other merits?

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About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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