While reading the article, Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect, by Peggy Ertmer and Anee T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich, I pondered a particular statement written that expressed the belief that continual changes in technology cause teachers to be perpetual novices . I jotted down on the margins if this explains why so many teachers are so reluctant to learn new technologies. By our very nature (and perhaps training) we strive to teach for eventual mastery. Our state test administrators celebrate mastery of concepts. Curriculum developers create teaching/learning materials describing skills as one that children are just beginning to understand, are developing, or should master at a particular age or grade level. It is implied of course, that the beginning skills should sometime in the future be mastered. This is of course the point, right? Students must master certain skills at all levels in order to be considered educated. But, do we also use the same standard for teachers? With terms like “Master Teacher,” isn’t there an implication that teachers can master the art of teaching? I am well aware of the mantra of “lifelong learner” that we loosely throw around our schools. But the environment we teach in stresses mastery. The 100% test. A “star” at the top of the paper.
With this in mind, perhaps this is why teachers will overwhelming describe technology as intimidating. Technology is quite fluid and changes rapidly. Once we learn a program, (or “mastered” it) the exact same company puts out a new “version” and we are back at “beginning level” all over again. If this circular pattern is repeated enough, as is so often is, teachers may become discouraged. The idea of being an eternal “novice” can be demoralizing. Exactly what to do about this is the larger question. The article goes on to explain about self-efficacy and “feeling good” about yourself and your continual effort. Critically, I would have to disagree that this will solve the problem of the two realities that exist within the nature of teaching….our own (I must master it to teach it) and one of technology (a new science that will evolve with human innovation).
Perhaps if the teachers were immersed into the environment of technology, the idea of complete mastery would begin to dispensate. Teachers may become more comfortable with the idea that the world that our children live in will change must faster than ours ever did. The very nature of the “100%- you get a star-A+” teacher will finally have to catch up to the “what’s the latest tech toy” of the generation we teach.