While I was away with a group of kids from schools all over Cape Town, at the national Eskom Expo for Young Scientists competition, I was roomed with a wonderful lady who is as passionate about edtech stuff as I am. Typically, we spent one evening talking LATE into the night about an idea we have to help teachers. (Watch this space – I don’t want to give the game away just yet!) We then spent another night talking late into the night about an idea I had for next year’s Gd 10 field trip, based on something she has done previously, and planning it out.
Although I came back sick (or picked up a bug on the plane, I don’t know), and although being away meant I missed an important family wedding (at which my kids were page boy and flower girl!!), for these two conversations alone, it felt worth it. There really is nothing quite like collaboration! So why is it, then, that teachers (myself included) are so reluctant to work as a team? Why are we so afraid of sharing our resources with one another?
I think, speaking only for myself, that there’s a fear that someone else will get the credit for my work. There’s also the fear that I will be shown up as less experienced/ competent. Financially, I guess there’s also a fear that someone else will make money off my hard work. Often in SA, collaboration means those from well-resourced schools underpinning the rest. This gives rise to the feeling that I am doing all the hard work and someone else is benefitting. We need more quid pro quo in SA. Sadly, that’s not going to happen for a very, very, VERY long time.
In one of the conversations we had while away, my friend mentioned that she’d been chatting to Penny Vingervelt (yes, my friends know people in high places!) and Penny had commented that she was ecstatic that schools are finally getting the message that they need to have a timetable.
Slaan my dood!
If this is the kind of difficulty we are facing in SA at the moment, that there are still schools who either don’t know how to put a timetable together, or feel there is no real need for one, then God help us! Our education system is in a far greater disarray than I previously believed, and, quite honestly, all the work I’m doing looking at edtech is almost a waste of time. Surely I should be spending my time and energy on something far more basic – and with more far-reaching consequences – like training up teachers, or writing up material that they can use?
I was very depressed at one point in the few days we were away. I really felt like everything I do is merely a drop in the ocean, and what’s the point?
I don’t have the answer to that yet. So, for the moment, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done. But I will be thinking about this… yes, I may make a difference to a few hundred students at my school, but if there’s a way I can make a difference to thousands of students’ lives, then I need to expend my energies there. Working smarter, not harder, right? Same input for greater output. Makes sense, right?