Tuesday, February 19, 2008

As A Twig is Bent

"As a twig is bent the tree inclines." Virgil

Virgil's quote is very apt for students. It applies equally well to their teachers.

Few would argue that there needs to be some measure of technology embedded in our curriculum. Reports like Tough Choices or Tough Times, new standards from the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), Thomas Friendman's best-seller, The World is Flat: all detail the types of literacies our students will need to survive and prosper in the 21st century.

The question remains, what needs to be taught, how will it be taught, and, most importantly of all, who will teach it?

We have a number of intelligent, energetic young teachers in our building, many of whom did their student teaching here. These new educators are interested in learning how to use technology tools to deliver content, but they didn't arrive with prior knowledge beyond how to access and use research sites online. Taught and mentored by older teachers who were not themselves fluent in the new literacies, many education majors are as much in need of instruction as their students.

Today, I looked at the courses required for an education major at SUNY Plattsburgh, the alma mater of many of our teachers. While graduates of the program are expected to "endeavor to practice effective pedagogy, reflect critically upon teaching and the learning process, and exemplify ethical, human and democratic principles within a complex, technological, global society" it is impossible to judge from the course descriptions exactly how, or even if, this goal is accomplished.

New teachers, trying to establish their careers, obtain tenure, pay off crushing student loans, and complete the NYS requirement for a graduate degree within a set number of years, have enough to do without learning new technologies they should have already mastered.

The tree can be bent crooked or bent straight. But either way:

"A twig is bent while it is green.” -Turkish Proverb

"Let's stop pretending" by streetoftrees


Carolyn Foote said...

I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that in order to make this sea change and improve schools, professional development is the key.

What that looks like is the question that many of us are trying to figure out--how to make that work differently than it has in the past so that it is more effective.

I've been contemplating this question relating to libraries as well--are new teachers learning about library collaboration and partnering with their technologists also? What kind of background relating to information literacy do they have coming into the campuses?

It's going to be a fascinating time as we see different models of teaching training and professional development emerge.

diane said...


I'm staring hard at retirement, and all the new opportunities it might present.

Perhaps schools of education and graduate library programs need more "guest speakers" who have experience in the day to day world of school library media centers.

Maybe I should start sending out resumes...


murcha said...

Hi Diane, I have awarded you the thinking bloggers award so you can see all details at my post http://murcha.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/thinking-blogger-award/. Congratulations and thanks for sharing with me.