Smile and Wave

Teaching is a complex, individual craft which is learned and re-learned among other teachers. While its also a social-economic act of the state to provide formal education — it’s foolish to think that eventually the teaching act will be handled by the state though some robotic process based on media and apps. Learning is about hands, not flippers.

But teaching as a profession is under cultural attack. Teaching is not an add-on role to an entirely different job that someone does part time. One does not teach in order to be allowed to pursue some greater personal-interest. It is not a task performed to offset the economic cost of becoming something else later. The worst version for me are those who ‘teach’ in order to satisfy their own inner-weird need to feel important — and act out that importance. Teaching is important work, but it doesn’t make anyone more important than anyone else. A great teacher knows this and doesn’t waste time on self-adoration exercises.

Teaching people how to teach is an even more complex social task. It is not something one picks up easily, nor can it be reduced to a series of topics to work-through.

Teaching with technology is another layer of professional practice. The role technology plays in the classroom emerges from cultural production is response to what is essentially valorisation. It therefore takes a teacher’s skill to mediate this process on behalf of students. This is always achieved through the socialisation of technology and the individual labour of the teacher. Whether teachers are aware or not, this field of ‘educational development’ — putting technology to work in deliberate, unique learning designs is also a professional field. For decades higher education has used educational development as a form of cultural production with the goal of learning how best to blend technology and media into learning and teaching. It would be stunningly ignorant to see this is a ‘service’ to academia and not an inseparable component of it. Sadly today, the financial and cultural value placed in educational development is in serious decline. Designing meaningful learning experiences is getting more complex, yet increasingly were seeing it represented as a simple add-on on that most ‘smart’ people can pick up, and therefore the boundaries of what can be done are being laid out increasingly by people who are neither teachers, designers or technologists.

I place a great deal of worth in being a qualified teacher who teaches and a designer who values creation over copying and aggregation. What I, and those like me do, is complicated and doesn’t happen without deep connections to networks of people who do the same — who neither keep score or fear that their colleagues have insights, ideas and skills which might usurp their own.

Being a good learning designer and teacher is not about proving what you do is good or bad to administrators, enthusiasts or people whom have little interest in teaching beyond it being a temporal add-on to their next destination. Teaching with technology is about where that act takes place inside the social negotiations of cultural products. I’ve come to the view that the best learning-designers I know are moving house — away from the decline and out of so called meritocracies.They are moving to, and creating, new places to operate from which stand well outside the rhetoric relating to the ‘rise of the amatuer’ are where reading Super Ape magazine is a way to appear to know something of teaching, technology and creativity.

I would argue that increasing numbers of good teachers (with technology) are listening to the ‘community calls’ which share a real vision for education and that increasingly, they are meeting educational developers interesting in creating better cultural products. There will be those who race-to-the-bottom as there were with creatives who failed to transition from pre-digital to post-digital world of media and its distribution. I guess the test is: If you’re a teacher using technology — where to you go to learn and from whom do you need permission to learn it and re-teach it.