Following the #pencilchat storm over the weekend (I wonder how many people know that John Spencer’s blog Adventures in Pencil Integration has been doing this for years and in fact Seymour Papert used the pencil allegory dating back to 1980) got me to thinking. As educators who are pushing change or perhaps just trying to promote the integration of more technology, we need to have a go-to list, to overcome the ‘yeah buts…’
Developments in technologies have played a critical role in bringing about social and institutional change throughout the ages, but resistance to change is not new.
From the journal of the National Association of Teachers, 1907: “Students today depend too much on ink. They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”
From Rural American Teacher, 1928: “Students today depend on store bought ink, They don’t know how to make their own, When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words until their next trip to the store. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”
From Federal Teachers, 1950: “Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in this country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”
Or from Out of Our Minds:
“If Shakespeare was alive today he would only understand 50% of what we were talking about – as indeed many of us struggle to completely understand Elizabethan English”
“At the end of the 19th century, artists worried that photography would be the death of painting. Others argued that this would be unlikely since a photograph could never be a work of art.”
Many people have interpreted passages of the Bible to imply: “The earth is fixed and immovable and lies at the center of all things.”
Or Bill Gates: “256K should be enough for anybody.”
These points illustrate the long struggle people, let alone educators, have had with contemporary technologies and dealing with change. The future is hard to predict, but one thing is certain – in a world moving at an exponential pace, change is the one known against the multitude of unknowns. So the next time you here a “yeah, but…”, tell them to get over it.
Add your own evidence below about resistance to change.