The keynote speaker had just finished a great presentation on the importance of transforming our schools. The talk was inspirational and had clearly resonated with the audience. A few of us lingered to talk about what actions we could take to bring this vision of the future into being. A director of technology sitting at our table complained about her principal being the obstacle to transforming education at the high school.
“All he cares about is test scores. He doesn’t care about technology at all. If he doesn’t change his attitude everything will be status quo. He’s set in his ways and there is no way he is going to change”. She was dead sure she had identified the culprit that was the obstacle to educational transformation.
“So what are you going to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know, it’s tough because…” and again she launched into the same description of the high school principal as disinterested in anything but test scores and college acceptances.
She had a strong belief that this principal would never change. I could feel her frustration and sense of powerlessness. I also noticed that she had settled into a comfortable pattern; complaining about the problem, declaring it impossible to fix, and living with the status quo.
I pushed a little further, “If what you say is accurate, who is responsible for dealing with him?”
She contorted her face, clearly uncomfortable with the question, “I guess the Assistant Superintendent, or the Superintendent.”
I asked her straight out, “How about you? Are you accountable?”
Her response was automatic and definitive, “No! How can I be accountable for how the principal behaves?”
The conversation broke off and we departed amid an uncomfortable silence.
It is here, at this critical juncture, that we, in ed tech, fail ourselves so often. We see clearly what is lacking in others and what needs to be changed, and yet are blind to our own accountability. When we refrain from pointing out the failures of others and embrace our own accountability, we are shedding the role of victim, and stepping into our own power.
True, there is no guarantee that we will succeed. Yes, sometimes it’s just easier to ignore the problem, there are plenty of things to keep us busy. Yes, it would be great if we had an inspirational leader like Martin Luther King Jr. to lead us… to have a dream that we could follow…
…but we also need the Rosa Parks of the world to take action.
If we, who understand the value of technology in learning, don’t take action, then who will? If we are going to move beyond the educational technology status quo, each of us must step into our own greatness, no matter our title, no matter our role.
We do this, not for ourselves; but for a generation of children that look to us for leadership and change.
Inspired by Susan Ohanian’s post:
Defend Democracy: A $71.40 plan to Stop NCLB
Will Richardson’s post:
Owning the Teaching…and the Learning
David Jakes post:
The Blame Game