I Suck

Photo Credit Jeremy Brooks
Photo Credit Jeremy Brooks

I received this message last night.

. . . I used to love your website when you took some techie idea and translated it for us commoners (non techie teachers). Now you seem to be so caught up in fighting “them” that you have forgotten “us”…the lowly teachers who are just trying to use technology. Come back ….I want the “old you”. The non cynical you ….the one who has great ideas of how to use technology in the classroom. Yes., the powerpoints and slide shares are horrible, and the world is falling apart, but we need great minds like yours to translate tech to teach….please add the “a” and stop worrying about the world.

I agree totally with her comments regarding the blog1 and its downward spiral. 2

The only thing is, I’m not sure how to get back to when I thought this blog was good and worthwhile. I was in a school then. I interacted with students and teachers. Things were exciting and I had real problems to solve and a living lab in which to test my ideas. That was my world. Now, I mainly sit in an office building that is as devoid of children as it is of color. Don’t get me wrong. I work with great people. We try to do great things but the focus is very different and, for me, another step removed from seeing any results. Change is a glacial process and simple things seem to require herculean efforts. I don’t feel we have time for glacial change and it frustrates me to my core.

I still have lots of ideas. I just don’t know if they are any good. There are lots of things I’d love to do but no way to connect to kids, to try things out, to test the mettle of my ideas and see if I’m just one of those people I can’t stand spouting unrealistic edtech gibberish.

In a way the struggle I’m having now is similar to the one I had when I was in a school. It was always a debate for me whether to focus on the people who wanted to do great things, focus on the lowest level teachers or try to move the whole school. Now it’s that debate in a larger scale. I don’t know if scattered people teaching well and using technology is enough. I worry about the leaders I see with all the right answers but no depth to what they’re talking about and totally bound by (and in some cases, to) a system that I don’t want won’t put my children in. I worry about the pied pipers of edtech celebrating useless garbage and wasting people’s time and energy.

I have, since 7th grade3, had little but contempt for my experiences with organized education (with a few bright spots). The reason I started teaching was because I thought I could do better, make a difference. I don’t see myself doing that now and it’s depressing. Clearly that translates to what I write.

All that being said, maybe this can be a wake up call for me, a chance for redemption. I want to write useful things again. I guess we’ll see if I can4.

1 I also appreciate her taking the time to let me know. It’s a lot easier in today’s world to drop someone and move on without a second thought.

2 I think she’s overly complimentary of me and overly self-effacing of herself and teachers.

3 I’ve been cynical a long time, it just wasn’t always so obvious here. 🙂

4 Wait a minute, this post was not a very good start. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. . . Unless there isn’t. Crap. There I go again.

Comments on this post

  1. Alan Levine said on August 13, 2009 at 11:29 am

    No suckage in sight.

    Frankly, you dont have to write for this one commenter, you dont have a genre you have to blog to, your blog is your space to write what you fee like.

    There are tons of places on the web offering how to’s

  2. Mathew said on August 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I guess I came late to the game.

    I only know the cynical you and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    I don’t think you need to change but I do agree that it’s awesome that someone took the time to read, consider, and respond to your writing via e-mail.

  3. Adam said on August 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I still think you suck.

  4. Mike H said on August 13, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I’m lucky enough to work with you so I probably don’t read this blog with the same lense as other folks…so with that being said, the whole you, not just the blog you, is still incredibly helpful in many ways. I know I’m one to become a “pied piper of edtech,” great line by the way, so you’ve helped me get on track when I’ve needed it. Either way, you’re putting out good stuff.

  5. Simon Oldaker said on August 26, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Sucking right along with you…

    • Tom said on August 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      Well at least I’m in good company.

  6. Melisa said on August 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Just found your blog and am enjoying it quite a bit. I don’t know you but I strongly suspect you don’t suck. And it is extremely refreshing to read an education writer who is honest and not just insanely chipper about everything. Reality is OK.