"Objectivity is highly valued in the low-context culture of Western professionalism, the assumption being that professionals are likely to diagnose and remediate more effectively when they are not emotionally involved with their clients and when the process is informed by a scientifically based and, therefore, objective body of knowledge that yields universal solutions. Indeed, the concept of objectivity itself is essentially Western." (p. 51)I am struggling with what role objectivity plays in the life of an educator. The more I practice the more I think it does not belong. There is no way to do something so human as educate a child, really to find truth together with a child, and do it without putting your own heart in the game. All that objectivity serves to do is distance me from the subject and from the learner, and in my experience, increased distance does not help learning. This quote hit me hard because I have been deeply struggling with what true objectivity is, and this has been a core struggle. Then to think that the idea of objectivity might just be a cultural artifact from the scientific revolution shakes me up even more.Here is why the struggle to define objectivity is important to a technology coordinator. We are asked to evaluate the one to one laptop program all the time. Currently numbers define educational success, but numbers do not tell the story. In some sense numbers are not objective. You have to come and visit. You have to talk with our teachers about the impact of technology on learning. You have to hear the stories of students creating their learning. Objectivity is a, "judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices" and as such seeks truth. We should make observations. We should allow those observation to shape us, in fact we have to because they become part of our experience. If we learn something from an observation we will not remain uninfluenced. It will be personal because learning is personal.What I strive for in helping people understand the impact of technology on teaching and learning is understanding. I want them to learn from me and my wonderful colleagues. I do not really want them to have an objective opinion. I want them to to be impacted by experience and put their own imprint on me. Just like I want my students to explore their worlds and show me the great new things that they find.
I did not originally underline the quote above as I read. However, it was one of my classmates favorite quotes. I am very thankful to her for pointing it out. It fits my test for a good future read, except it is a test for something that is true. The education blogs love quotes like the one above because of the call for changing school to be more individual and student centered. They love it because it talks about needing to nurture each learner or like Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (KJV) The point of the proverb is that each child has a way. Each child has a unique, creative, Kingdom-building way to go.Therefore, it is good to hear the same news in a different arena. And to think, if it were not for a colleague I would have read right past it.
I have been a part of a lot of committees in my professional life. None has worked towards a goal like the K-12 Technology Committee. This committee was tasked with evaluating the past uses of technology in school and setting a vision for the future. It was made of of an administrative facilitator, a couple of building principals, the Technology Director and a teacher from each building in our district. Each year we would meet during the school day to discuss where we had been. The administrative facilitator had a good solid agenda and we were asked to prepare for the meeting. There were reports, but mainly we discussed teaching and learning and how it changed with access to technology.
I remember vividly the day that we talked about the impact of laptops on our teaching. Each teaching member of the team had been given a laptop the previous year and we discussed how it had changed our personal lives and our professional lives. While this seems like a trite thing to do now, in 2002 it was an amazing experience. We decided more teachers needed laptops and more rooms needed projectors to go with the laptops.
Then in 2004 we talked about having pushed computer labs as far as they would go. The labs were busy places and filled with learning, but everything else we wanted to do with computers required more. We knew students would each have to have a laptop to take our technology use to the next level. We designed a pilot program for the following school year and we were off. Now every student in sixth through twelfth grade has a laptop. A committee with a leader who is willing to get out of the way, a mandate and a vision is essential to good collaboration.
I remember touring the high school that would eventually hire me for the first time. I was walking down the hall with the principal and saw in the distance Dale. I had been a camp counselor with Dale for three summers and he had told me about the job. I yelled to him like it was camp. Later I learned that he was nervous about that. He wondered if that kind of excitement to see a colleague was going to hurt my chances of getting hired. I was oblivious and they hired me anyway.
At summer camp there is no option but to collaborate. Days are packed with activity and if you share a responsibility with someone you have to trust that they will come through. Our third summer at camp Dale assigned activity leaders. He would come up to me after assigning classes and tell me that I was leading an activity I did not really like to lead, but at least I was leading it with him. That made all the difference. Who I was leading with was more important than what we were leading. From there we could figure it out.
That fall I was assigned to teach the same subject, earth science, as Dale. I think he thought his work was done when he handed over a copy of his lesson plans from the last few years to me, but one night a month into school I called his home with an idea. We both got excited about teaching the way we had counseled. We were up late fine tuning the activity and gathering supplies. Slowly over the next year the course changed. New ideas, new strategies, new goals. The trust and the workflow that we had honed as camp counselors flowed into the classroom. We felt comfortable in our roles, each using our strengths to compliment each other.
Dale helped set my career off on a creative path. Our cooperation helped me to realize that the profession I had entered required using the best of my skills and finding someone to help where I fall short. Our collaboration mixed our talents and really modeled what what God created us to be, creative unique individuals working in community to better the world.