Why My Colleagues Think I’m Weird

I've been reading some of Dean Groom's stuff and spending a lot of time nodding and mentally saying "Uh huh." His thoughts and much of what I encounter from others in similar roles in their online writing makes me feel less isolated and less inclined to label myself as the "weirdo" or "oddball" out of step with reality.

But I just know that more than a few of my colleagues are convinced that I am not normal and that this over-obsession with all things digital is a good starting point for proof.

Here's some more evidence fuelling their opinion:

  • He says he doesn't watch much TV or even read daily newspapers.
  • He walks around with strange gadgets - over gigabyted USB drives, recording devices, PDAs, heck even my school laptop is some strange tablet PC contraption.
  • He seems to work things out for himself by playing with technology (Won't he break something? Doesn't he need instructions? Shouldn't he be doing real work?)
  • He uses weird words like blog, wiki, twitter, network, skype, slideshare, unconference - does any normal person know what he's on about?
  • He volunteers to speak and present at conferences (as if he has worthwhile to say) but says he gets bored sitting in the audience at them.
  • He's even Googled his own name!
  • He interacts with weird strangers online and then he goes to meet them. Hasn't he heard of stranger danger?
  • And he gets frustrated that we aren't all as interested obsessed as he is about this whole internet thing - says that we'll all be irrelevant or something if we don't get involved.

Just like this Dean Groom fella, my colleagues probably figure that this would be my point of view as well.

But herein lies the problem. We want them to use it, so access is made easy. PD is offered, but suffers from the power distribution law syndrome where a few, do most, most of the time. Teachers know that they can set some task - say a video - but don’t need to ‘learn’ to use it personally - they don’t go through the student experience - so a guessing at the value of the activity at best. They assume that the ‘digital natives’ will just get on with it - else the IT people or computing staff will be the ‘go to’ people for the students. We accept this, and of course help the kids as we figure at least the kids are using technology.

And they'd probably be right. Maybe I am wrong. This internet obsession thing might all be a lot of hot air and I'm wasting my time right now.

But that means so are you.

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6 thoughts on “Why My Colleagues Think I’m Weird

  1. Dean Groom

    Mmmm, Graham, not sure I’m a benchmark for being weird, but anyone who decides that this is important enough to put themselves in the line of fire has to be absolutely steadfast that set backs are really mile-stones. I read Lehmann’s post talking about the choice that a teacher has is using ICT (which is not the same as going to the computer room) – that we each face difficult choices – we can take the easy option each day, or the diligent one which often requires significantly more more. He goes on to say that no matter which one you choose – that choice gets easier each time you make it.

    You have to experiment, you have to push people (gently), but mostly you have to emit energy so that others will let you into their classrooms. It is only then that you can effect change – by modeling new pedagogy, rethinking EdTech use, motivating kids and supporting staff. If you get it right, they get your virus, and after a while, let go of your hand and keep on running.

    I really think that putting yourself our there, actually draws fire from all those who’s teaching methods are based in the past – and allows those you are infecting (in a nice way) to shine and re-engage kids with EdTech. I’m happy for them to be low profile in doing this, as the last thing they need is to cop some of the crap. Realistically, it’s taken me 3 years to get to the point where the EdTech difference is in sufficient places that we can point to some very powerful learning activities, it will take at least another year before I would dare to think that the balance has tipped. Keep on doing what you’re doing. You blog was one of the first I ever read way back when … so I have a lot to say thanks for … but I’m not weird honest. My natural autism does help …. onya!

  2. Sarah Stewart

    Hi Graham and Dean, thanks for the post which I found very interesting. My own experience has been mixed. On the one hand I am sure people have regarded me as odd-ball. On the other hand, my colleagues are beginning to utilize more technology in their teaching and starting to think outside the square. But I am finding that it only gets to a point – there’s a reluctance to fully engage because of a continuing skepticism, and I’d say a fear (just my impression) of where it will lead them, or a fear of the ‘cost’ in terms of time and goodness knows what else. But whatever they think, I do not believe I am wasting my time one bit.

  3. Graham Wegner

    @dean I hope that in no way am I portraying you as a weirdo. That label is only a ficitional one placed on myself from my perceived viewpoint of my reluctant staff members. The more I read your stuff on the web, the more inclined I am to view you as one of the authorative voices in Australia on the potential of read/write classrooms and contemporary student learning.
    @sarah The fact that we learn from each other from vastly differing corners of the education world is testament that this “weirdness” works and yes, I agree 100% – I am definitely not wasting my time here either.

  4. laurenjogrady

    I sometimes tell teachers I sit in a flashmeeting on a Sunday and talk about education and they loook at me like I have two heads. I love the way yourself and others speak at conferences it is refreshing to all the other self promoters out there pedalling things that were innovative in the 90’s. I think that it is when these quiet voices like yours and dean’s and Jess McCulloch’s get out there that we may see a reinvention of parts of the wheel.
    I can’t wait


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