It’s human nature to not want to take responsibility for problems. We are good – very good – at this behavior in education. One of the most common problems I hear about (largely from adults – parents and teachers) is the “distraction” of technology. And the scapegoat is almost always, “the technology” or the students. Scott McLeod blogged about this today, and I absolutely agree with him.
Classroom management stems from good instruction. Engaging learning environments mitigate ‘off-task’ behavior. We need to stop blaming students or laptops for our own failure to create better learning spaces (and that’s true whether we’re talking P-12 or postsecondary).
Another problem area we educators are good at shifting responsibility for is the growing number of students exiting brick-and-mortar schools to go to charter schools, particularly cyber charter schools. We inevitably blame the students – they’re lazy, they can’t handle rigor, they just don’t fit in, etc. We also blame the “greedy” cyber schools. It’s really not learning any way.
When instances arise where we blame technology, or blame other people outside our organizations, we need to stop. Take a breath. Hold the mirror up. And ask some of the tough questions:
- What are we doing to contribute to the situation? And be honest.
- Why did those students decide to attend a cyber school? In what ways can we better meet the needs of these students?
- What can we do to change the classroom so our students won’t even think of being distracted by something other than the planned learning at hand?
I’m not saying that we are always at fault. That is by no means the case. But let’s start with ourselves. Hold up the mirror and ask the tough questions. Don’t give in to the temptation to make something or someone else the scapegoat for your problems. Only when we hold up the mirror and are honest and authentic can we begin to address our challenges.