Thursday, December 27, 2007

Policy and Culture: Friends or Foes for Teacher Technology Adoption & 21st Century Skills?

When thinking about 21st century skills and more specifically teacher technology adoption, what are the roles of culture and policy? Are they friends or foes? Does and can policy influence culture?

I really got to thinking about this while writing my last post. The culture of a school is such a powerful factor in how, when, and why things are done. Teacher technology adoption is especially prone to culture, albeit still like any other practice, since it's still not a commonly practiced norm in many classrooms, learning, and instructional routines. Interestingly, I would suspect in spite of many great cultures of learning and student achievement, teacher technology adoption and 21st century skills are void.

Larry Cuban has written quite a bit about the influence of policy on actual classroom practices. Deal and Peterson discuss policy as one of the lenses used in educational initiatives. The conclusion I've drawn from from reading these scholars is that policy doesn't have a large, lasting impact on classroom practices.

The old adage "give a man to fish, he'll eat for a day...teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime" comes to mind. It seems like policy, in a sole effort to drive teacher technology adoption, will really just sustain short-term adoption like giving a man a fish. Culture of a school, or "the way we do things around here", will sustain a greater adoption of technology like teaching a man to fish.

If this is true, what effect will it have on teacher technology adoption? Here are some more interesting questions that I think could be asked:

  • Will policy be a true catalyst for engaging educators in developing 21st century skills?
  • Does a strong, culture filled with capacity have to be in place first for policy to have a sustainable effect?
  • How can culture become inclusive of 21st century skills?
  • How can culture embrace teacher technology adoption?
  • What cultural traits need to be shaped for 21st century skills to be inclusive?
  • What cultural traits need to be shaped to provide for greater teacher technology adoption?

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