Monday, October 4, 2010

Are we doctors, artists or actors?

Roger Neilson blogging at has a nice post where he draws an analogy between a doctor using 150 year old tools and a teacher using 150 year old methods and by analogy asks why we don’t throw such teachers out on their ears. However I think the analogy is an unfair one.

In medicine there is a clear goal: cure the patient, and very solid evidence that technology helps.

In education the goal is misty (what’s an educated student?) and there is less evidence that technology is an essential tool.

First I'd like to draw an analogy not to medicine but to art, considering the proposition that as educators we are artists. Some artists use technology to very good effect, some don’t. Its not clear that the low tech artists are “ipso facto” doing a worse job. This analogy works at a lot of levels, but it still doesn’t quite capture what educators do. This brings me to my final analogy which is with actors.

Here in some sense the core performance remains the same, but the role of technology although subservient, is stronger. A theatre performance without stage lighting and other technology would be an arcane thing which would require extra artistic justification to validate it. Maybe that’s how we should view teachers who haven’t moved on.

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