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EdTech Update




« Disclaimer | Main | A "Duh" moment »

Mountain men and settlers

Joel Adkins at the Twain Blog recently posted "The Academia Gap and the New Philosophers." It seems to have struck a nerve with a good many readers, leading to some interesting reactions by Scott McLeod, Dean Shareski and other commenters.

In summary, Joel wonders if the gap between the "philosophers" academics, consultants and regular blog writers (with seemingly more discretionary time to muck about with new technologies) and the K-12 front line (who actually have real jobs) is growing. He pointedly muses:

I wish I could Twitter and Plurk all day too.
I wish I could research blogs and contribute to the online conversation like they do.
I wish I could Ustream and connect with this global philosophy shift in live streaming.
I wish I could participate in their witty and fun conversations and travel tips they share all day and night.
I wish I could get online and ask for participants from your district because mine…well..they gave up on listening to me months ago because I am “too far out there”.
I wish I could read all those books you all talk about and listen to those podcasts while I get ready to take on a new day.

But I can’t. I have to work.

This resonates with me at some level - given that I have a day job and all. But this is also the same old, same old whine about theories from the ivory tower of education vs. the hard realities of the classroom and library.

Cry me a river. This was my reply to Joel:

I suspect many of your "philosophers" see technology as an avocation, a hobby or a means of personal gratification/identification. When people ask me how I find the time to write, my simple reply is that I don't golf, garden or fool around.

I have resolved (in my own weak mind) the dissonance between the "philosophers" and the practitioners by looking at them through the historical lens of the mountain men and the settlers. Both played important roles in developing the West, but were very different. I see many of the edubloggers, early adopters and tech advocates as the "mountain men" of the virtual frontier. Not everyplace or everything they encounter will have value or be useful and they won't get everyone to go West. But it is vital to at least scout it out and urge others to move into new territories.

(Forgive the sexism of mountain "men" and non-revisionist historical view that populating the US was a good thing. Sigh..)

Anyway, read Joel's posts and the interesting comments that follow. You'll have time if you only play nine holes instead of eighteen today.

"Liver-eatin' McLeod" Mountain man of the virtual West.
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Reader Comments (8)

Great thoughts! I think the Mountain Man metaphor is a good one. The mountain men were great networkers who would come together for a "rendez vous" kind of like the "edublogger cons" or "NECCS" that I have read about :-). And not everyone was cut out to be a Mountain Man (or woman). This prompted me to post a few thoughts as well.
And, bebe una cerveza para tu en Cuernavaca! Cuernavaca es fantistico!

July 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob Darrow

And then there are those of us in the middle. I see myself as the pioneer woman who had to keep body and soul together for herself, the settlers AND the mountain men. My job is to look at the vision of the mountain men and make it work for the settlers - the ones who longed to settle a new land AND the ones who left the "old country" kicking and screaming. Not to mention the children who had no choice in the matter. I need to get them all to the table, fed, watered and talking in a civilized manner.

July 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry

Two things.

I love the mountain men analogy. I'll bank that one.

Secondly, I do golf and fool around (in a good way). Not sure what that means but I don't have time to expound....I've got a tee time, for 18 holes.

July 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDean Shareski

I'm the grizz.


Hey, I love Jeremiah Johnson. Seen it?


July 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel GUhlin

So if you have hobbies not related to the www then you can't be a pioneer? What happened to balance?

Just a thought.

July 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

@ Rob,

The analogy of the rendez vous is a good one! I suspect most mountain men were far less chatty than bloggers tend to be.


@ Jacquie,

I suspect MANY of us see ourselves more in the middle than out front. I know I do as well. And we all know it was WOMEN who have made civilization possible!

All the best,


@ Dean,

More power to you. Some people are just plain efficient. Not me. I am old and slow

If I did fool around, I wouldn't admit it in a space where my wife might be reading!

All the best,


@ Miguel,

I think Jeremiah was a great, great uncle or something. It's why all the men in our family now bear a strong resemblance to Robert Redford.

All the best,


@ Ashly,

Oh I hope most people - even the mountain men - lead somewhat balanced lives, filled with hobbies, family, travel and other passions. I know the people who show a human side in their blogs are the ones who are most interesting to read.

Thanks for the comment,


July 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

very historical!

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHAZ


February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMIKI

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