lege, Texas; and Karen Bruett, director of education and community initiatives at Dell, Inc. Respondents were Daniel Gohl, principal of McKinley Technical High School, Washington, DC, and Julia Fallon, program developer for technical education, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington State.
High school students often have more familiarity with current computer and information technology—a greater literacy—than do their teachers, Wendy Hawkins noted. Thus, if they are to help young people acquire ICT fluency, teachers and those in the business of educating teachers must adjust their attitudes and approaches.
As an analogy, Hawkins described her recent quest to correct an omission from childhood—to learn to play the piano. She took piano lessons and diligently applied herself, playing two hours a day for some five years. “But it became increasingly clear to me,” she said, “that I was never going to be able to play the piano the way that eight-year-olds would. There are things that get into your ‘muscle memory’—that are programmed into your brain in those early years—that an adult will never be able to catch up with.”
Similarly, she suggested, “the notion that we are going to retrain our teaching workforce to be able to keep up with kids who were born to this technology, who were immersed in it practically from day one, is non-sense.” We’ve got to make our teachers feel comfortable with that “fact of life,” she said, and direct them instead to motivate and guide students to build on their ICT foundations so that they may become as effective they can be.
An effort in that pedagogical direction, according to Hawkins, is Intel’s Teach to the Future Program for providing teacher professional development. This hands-on, face-to-face, 40-hour course, she said, trains teachers to apply the tools of technology in classrooms in meaningful ways and to transform their teaching roles from central source of knowledge to enabler of students in their own individualized quests for knowledge. The idea is to place students at the center and encourage them to become lifelong learners, not only for keeping up with technology but also for using it as creatively and effectively as possible. This “quite transformative” training program, she said, has now been offered in 47 countries, and 3 million teachers have completed it.