Yeah, I’m a Star Trek fan. Among other adolescent tastes (Moon Knight, baseball, atomic fireball jawbreakers) I’ll confess that getting my seven year old hooked on Kirk and Picard is a goal for the year. So when this week’s #YourEdustory prompt asked about how those of us interested in changing education cope with others resistant to change my first thought went to that metallic Borg cube, and the creepy catchphrase: “Resistance is futile.”
When I started teaching a hundred years ago or so, I had a chalkboard, took attendance on a scantron bubble sheet that I clipped to my door, and had to go to the English office to use a computer. A teacher computer. The kids didn’t touch technology unless we took a walk to a computer lab.
The changes facing education today are at least as great as the shift from blackboards to Blackboard, from mimeographs to Google Classrooms. With the rise of social media in schools, increasingly ubiquitous technology, and a shift to an information rich world, we as educators are in the enviable position of rebuilding our ship at sea.
Sure it’s challenging, but in the end, what possibilities!
As a principal, it seems to me that there are two ways of approaching this change, and the reality of resistance. The first is to call on fear, rattling the futurist’s sabre of the challenges our students will face, and hoping that teachers will feel anxious enough to give in to the inevitability of change. The trouble with this approach is that it runs the risk of paralyzing folks, and it robs them of the beautiful opportunity to come up with solutions to the questions of why, what, and how we change what we do to prepare kids for an ever changing world.
The second approach is to embrace that change, do my best to articulate it, and put things in perspective. This means conversations, lots of conversations, and working with others to identify what we can do to truly prepare our students for the lives ahead of them.
It means looking back as well as forward. For my teacher’s first day back I’m collecting a few short videos that can be running at lunch. Some are inspirational, some look toward the changes ahead, and one is about one room school houses. To know our future, we should know our past.
I’m not saying that this makes change cozy, but striving to take the fear out of it, focusing instead on the possibilities, and the importance of addressing those possibilities together, can help us recognize the opportunities as well as the challenges.
Half a decade ago Star Trek imagined a future of change, filled with technology, equality, and hope. Resistance to those ideas is futile; as imperfectly as our society progresses, it does progress. As teachers and learners, we are in the position to shape this progress, and we will. Together. Purposefully. With or without robots.