There are two omnipresent sentiments in “21st Century Learning” and #edtech that are increasingly problematic, if not downright incorrect.
Change is needed in our schools and it’s not happening fast enough because of those that fear change (read: technology).
If we don’t change fast enough, we risk having our children fall behind.
I know these tropes intimately because I myself have spouted them on many an occasion; I don’t feel comfortable lending a voice to them any longer. Let’s start with the first one.
The idea that a fearful majority are staying up at night terrified that the #edtech bogeyman is going to get them makes no sense. I don’t see these people as conspicuously as some others do. What is more, when I do meet educators and stakeholders that appear to, or actually do express, literal fear with gigabytes and USB cables, they are a small majority. Hardly needle movers, if you will. I wonder if many of us hitched a ride on the ‘people fear change’ bandwagon because it was an easy explanation for a complex, systemic issue. After that, perhaps cognitive bias just took hold and made it true in everyone’s minds, turning it into a mantra, and maybe even a self-fulfilling prophecy. Furthermore, it is usually with arrogance that people decry a group of faceless people as fearful of change. Often we accuse others of this when what we really mean is I just wish they would agree with me and I don’t know why they won’t. Finally, imagine if educators went on about others fearing change in any other context such as math, the arts, health and well being, etc. The ‘fear’ line would not be acceptable as an ongoing excuse. So, I’m done with that line now.
As for the second trope, the one which admonishes parents, the government, and anyone else who’ll listen that, without 21st Century Learning, our children may end up in some kind of millennial limbo? It’s straight from the department of Keeping Up With The Joneses. At its best it resembles a false flags approach to persuasion, and at its worst, it’s downright hypocritical. How can we decry a subset of individuals as fearful whilst promoting anxiety about not being prepared for an unimaginable future? We can’t have it both ways.
Let’s check ourselves whenever we find the work we do resembles a real estate agent trying to ask for a higher price because the house they’re selling is in an area with “good schools”. If we always look at “21st Century Learning” as a thing to “sell”, or help people overcome fear about, we’ll never get off this hamster wheel of self-perpetuating fear.