Monday, September 14, 2009


I don't know what to call it exactly. I have seen it. It doesn't just happen in teachers. It happens in many people. Maybe in most.

When I was young, I remember going to the doctor's office and seeing the Highlights Magazine. It was a staple of waiting areas everywhere. Still is. Often on the back cover or on an inside page you would find a collection of 4 or 5 pictures. Pictures that were taken at such close range that it was hard impossible to tell exactly what you were looking at. Sometimes it was a fly's leg, the edge of a quarter, or once the bottom end of an apple where there is just a remnant left of the flower it starts out as.

This happens to teachers. It happens to many people. Maybe most.

We become so involved and so close up to what we are doing that we no longer recognize what we are looking at. But this doesn't really tell the whole story. I saw a man who could play the saw. You know one of those old timey cowboy grub places. He was great. He could play that saw in ways that were simply amazing. He had picked an instrument and could make it do things that I would not have ever imagined. But the reality is: He was still playing the saw. We can become amazing at getting our chosen tool to play amazing tunes, but sometimes it is time to change the instrument. For example: I am a PowerPoint power user. I can get PowerPoint to do some amazing things. I use it as a photo editor, I create interactive stand-alone activities and quizzes, I even know how to get a video to play over multiple slides so different questions show up at different points along the video. The reality is though, that just like the old saying goes. To a hammer everything looks like a nail. I am guilty of this. To me the tool that I use has so influenced how I teach that when I sit down to consider what I need to do I always ask myself…What PowerPoints will I need? I think it's perspective....maybe? I am so close to the subject that I fail to recognize one concept.

What if I don't need PowerPoint?

This is a challenge for education. We have a lot of teachers who have become virtuoso's in the chosen method of teaching. Cooperative learning, literature circles, lecture, even worksheets. But the challenge with that is teaching like this would be as dangerous as a doctor who prescribed varying amounts and types of antibiotics for all diseases. It simply wouldn't cure everything.

I worry that many of us as educators and especially as tech educators see tech as the solution. The solution is education. Tech is just a tool.

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