Easy to do is easy to say.
Earlier this week I gave the talk "If You Think You Can Do a Thing." The presentation's focus is on assessing and changing teacher attitudes toward technology, arguing that attitude plays a major part in any change effort. (I know, 'Well, duh!")
One of the points I try to make comes from Geoffrey Moore in his book, Inside the Tornado. He neatly divides people implementing new technologies into visionaries and the pragmatists, and suggests we need to work with each group differently. He writes:
Visionaries are intuitivePragmatists are analytic
Visionaries support revolutionPragmatists support evolution
Visionaries are contrariansPragmatists are conformists
Visionaries break away from packPragmatists stay with herd
Visionaries follow their own dictatesPragmatists consult with colleagues
Visionaries take risksPragmatists manage risks
Visionaries are motivated by opportunitiesPragmatists are motivated by problems
Visionaries seek the possible
Pragmatists pursue the probable
After years of living in denial, I am coming out of the closet here. Yes, friends and family, I must come clean. I am a PRAGMATIST. Perhaps I was once a visionary, but having worked with real people, contended with real technologies, and been employed by real schools for the past 30 years, I am now a full-fledged pragmatist.
And instead of being ashamed, I am proud! We pragmatists should hold our heads high. Sure, it's exciting to hear those exciting pointy-heads pontificate about how things "really ought to be," but putting vision into practice is where we pragmatists shine - where the vision is practical, of course. And when it actually makes sense and if others are doing it. Of course the chance of success must be pretty good. Oh, the change must be demonstrated in other schools to have actually improved kids or teachers lives.
I would argue that making something work in th real world on a broad scale takes as much or greater genius than thinking it up in the first place.
In a recent School Library Journal article, Will Richardson uses an innovative teacher as an example of how using tags within del.icio.us can facilitate the collaborative problem solving process. Visionary! Very cool! But when I demonstrated del.icio.us to a group of teachers this week, one excitedly raised her hand and asked, "Do you mean students could store their research paper bookmarks there so they keep them even after the tech director re-images the lab?" Pragmatic! Very cool! Bless her big practical heart.
Let's hold our heads high, fellow pragmatists. We're doing good things. It just takes us a little longer.