I’ve unwittingly become a bureaucrat!

I’ve unwittingly become a bureaucrat! EEEkk!

At the closing of last school year I was intrigued by a colleagues blog post outlining a conversation with a community leader. What’s the difference between a teacher and a bureaucrat? The question was not sarcastic. Ms. Grass outlines the thought processes this naive question generated. Given the current technological swing, standardization and centralization of public education, I think we should all read her blog. ( ps. not only is she a very intelligent educated aboriginal woman teaching in Lilloet, she is a progressive teacher I’m proud to say was a grad from MBSS when I was there. )

Why do I return to her post today? Well, because I have spent the past 6 weeks, notwithstanding job action, doing nothing but scrambling to serve students stuck in a school system burdened by brand new state of the art modern technology that was implemented with poor educational design. No fault of individuals I am sure. I’m spending almost all my time with learning or pedagogy but technical triage! Directors, admin and technicians alike are all very hard working and nice people as a rule but the sum total educational reality has been a disaster. I have spent enormous hours interfacing bad system design with frustrated kids who just want to get access. I feel like I am in Haiti. I know it is relative but honestly, I get lectured to be accountable and encourage personalize learning but… how, when the fundamentals are blocked by technical walls?  It may not be a conspiracy or censorship but it is a real blockade that my administrators don’t  fathom.

What have I learned?

  • that as a technological competent teacher-librarian who developed a plan centered around service, I became an indispensable bureaucrat
  • that, paradoxically, as technology gets more powerful and transparent, service desks like libraries get proportionately inundated with demand for inservice
  • that the more we get motivated by powerful technologies to communicate, that paradoxically, the more we forget the value of content and discourse
  • the greater the tools to liberate the individual, the greater the pressure institutions want to standardize and seek ‘ efficiencies’

So, what does a professional do when confronted with forces that oppose his sensibilities? I don’t know but whatever I do I’ll resist with every bit of DNA the movement to be a bureaucrat.

Grass, Starleigh. ‘What’s the difference between a bureaucrat and a teacher?’ Blog. June 20, 2011. (Grass, Jun 20)

About LiterateOWL

photographer, flyfisher , bird watcher, dog lover, amateur artist and retired teacher-librarian...
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4 Responses to I’ve unwittingly become a bureaucrat!

  1. Starleigh says:

    Glad the post resonated with you. Sorry to hear your year got off to a rough start and hope that things get easier.

    Of the points you listed the fourth one is the most paradoxical. Through the internet suddenly we have access to an incredible diversity of resources so it is ridiculous that people would try to standardize the types of resources which students can use.

    • LiterateOwl says:

      Thanks. I think you are doing yeoman’s work over there and I sure wish you well with graduate studies. You are not just a twinkle, you are a blazing beacon! thx 🙂

  2. Pingback: Teachers: aspiring bureaucrats? « Bill Storm on Ed Tech

  3. Bill Storm says:

    You’re crackin’ me up, Al. Thanks for your very non-bureaucratic transparency.

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