Is this Mandatory?

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In a presentation recently, called, ‘Leading in a Connected World’ I was asked “Is this mandatory?”

Now, I assume, and clarified with the questioner, that this meant: “will we, as teachers, face any negative consequence if we don’t engage?” The answer was, of course: “No” But:

my response then went on to talk about the fact that, as teachers, we are seeking to engage learners in relevant environments which reflect the social context in which they exist and that, as such, we should at least acknowledge and endeavour to respond willingly, to the moral imperative of making our learning environments less like parallel universes.

You see, I’m also of an age similar to many of our, ahem, ‘chronologically gifted’ teachers. I’m 55 and began teaching in 1978 after trying a few other things. In my early career days, in the early eighties, I shared a flat with a woman who operated word processors for a major law firm. Then, as Apple 2e and other small machines began to enter the school space in the mid eighties, it became apparent to me that there would always be a growing relevance of the use of these technologies.

In the intervening years, like everybody, we have all grown relationships and families, commuted or not, worked second jobs and progressed in careers and generally rolled around in the tumble dryer of life.

Sorry, but it’s just disingenuous to suggest that all of this has suddenly exploded at a massive rate. And, I don’t accept the ‘lack of time’ excuse, or the assumption that some people must have a special gene or DNA structure which makes them better able to assimilate this into their practice. The fact that it’s never been ‘mandatory’ as opposed to being seen as a ‘moral imperative’ is probably where it sits. I’m not keen on making things mandatory, as I believe this just encourages more creative excuses for aversion.

It is, however, time to accept the moral imperative if, as we would all say: we’re here for the kids.

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