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)