Response to Bud the Teacher

EC&I 831 –Response to Bud the Teacher

This post was absolutely awesome.  I couldn’t agree more with his position and the rationale that he uses to back it up.  I loved his quote that states, “Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem”.  To me, this is completely obvious.  I would have been one of the students sitting in the back of the class trying to figure out any possible way to sidestep the safeguards simply as a means of personal amusement at a stodgy teacher’s expense.

At the risk of sharing too much information about my potentially delinquent high school past, I can remember when I was in high school and Discmans had just come out and were the latest craze.  Those who know me may agree that from time to time I can have attention issues, and in high school there were certain classes that caused this affliction to flare up more than others (how’s THAT for a smooth way of putting it?).

Music has always helped me concentrate and realizing that it was getting me nowhere to be the smart arse, I decided I’d listen to my Discman during the part of class designated for completing the assigned work.  For possibly the first time all semester, I was on task, getting my work done and not distracting others around me.  Rather than receiving praise for turning my attitude around, I had my Discman taken away from me for the remainder of the period as this was apparently not an appropriate venue to use such technology.  When I questioned Mrs. L as to why I couldn’t use this device if all of the lecturing had been completed and I was working on the assigned material, she had no response and simply informed me that she would be keeping my Discman for the rest of the week to teach me a few manners.

I couldn’t have been much older than 14 and I may not have been quite as eloquent as I am today, but I realized then and there that to this teacher, school was simply a means of socialization, not education.  I can’t say I learned whatever life skill Mrs. L may have been trying to instill in me that particular day, but I can say that I made her life a living hell for the remainder of the week that she kept my Discman and possibly the rest of the semester as well.  Oops.

This situation could have been used as a teachable moment to inform me of the etiquette of using such a tool.  If I had been off task and listening to music when I should have been paying attention to the content being presented in class, obviously my behavior would have needed to be corrected.  But to punish a student for taking the initiative to find a means to stay on track doesn’t make much sense to me.

This is the same way that I view the Facebook “pandemic” facing our schools today.  There are neon signs in our computer labs saying that Facebook, Youtube and gaming sites are not to be accessed on school computers.  Why?  Obviously if a student is changing his or her status or looking up the latest UFC knockouts when they should be listening to my ever-exciting spiel about how to conjugate verbs in the imparfait, action should be taken as this is an inappropriate use of instructional time.  But if students can use these tools as a means of accessing information that makes sense to them in a way that I can’t provide, or if a student simply has an interest in a certain area that may not be covered in a school curriculum and isn’t offensive in nature (I won’t get into that one after our class last night!), shouldn’t we foster this lust for knowledge?


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2 Responses to “Response to Bud the Teacher”

  1. Bettina Welsh Says:

    Nice flashback, Milli Vanilli last night and now discman! I too have battled schools goal for control. As I get older I am surprised by the life path of some of my former high school classmates. Many students that ‘behaved’, and did their homework have ended up unsuccessful in career and home. I often wondered, how that could be? These were the good ones, the model students, they were bound for success in life. How could they be so successful in high school and fail life. I think that you were passing life when you realized that you needed a way to ‘control yourself’. Somewhere along the way you realized that you needed to do something about yourself and didn’t look for an excuse or blame others for your distracted behaviour. It’s all about taking responsibility and action, that is what you did. In doing this you took the control away from the teacher. The teacher probably had a solution and you didn’t choose that solution. I think if we always do what we are told, we are mere sheep, we have the ability to think for ourselves. Granted sheep have a lot going for them, but I prefer to be human. So, this brings me to question technology in the classroom. Is there a connection to control and technology. If schools are all about control, how are they going to react to technology? I think you know the answer! I always enjoy your stories. Thanx, Bettina

  2. Alec Couros Says:

    Hi Brian,

    When you respond to something like this, it’s really good if you link back to the post that you are talking about. Remember when we spoke about pingbacks? That would alert Bud that you are talking about his post, and he may even come to this space and leave a comment.

    Think about blogging as writing in a community, but sometimes you need to go knock on your neighbours’ door and get some help fixing your fence, or you go over there and fix his. But, if you don’t ring the doorbell, you’re stuck doing it yourself.

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