Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« Changed but Still Critical - Part One of Two | Main | Calling Al Bell fans! »

Who doesn't get it?

During Monday evening's T-L Virtual Cafe session*, the following refrain was again sounded:


Principals just don't get it.

I always shudder when I hear anyone say that someone else doesn't "get it." Why might a person, "not get" something that seems obvious to the one expressing frustration?

  • That the person is stupid. (Amazing, however, that a stupid person could get through graduate school.)
  • That the person is being willfully ignorant. (I supose such devious people exist - but to what purpose?)
  • That the person has not been properly educated. (They don't ever talk about libraries/technology in administrator training programs.)

Here is what I think is more likely -  most administrators "get it" just fine - they just have a different reality that makes our "it" less important to them than it is to us.

We can offer the very best hammer in the world, but if your principal really needs is a saw, having a great hammer is immaterial. They get "it" that you have a good hammer - it just isn't relevant.

Maybe it's us that don't get "it."

Just thinking about this as I read our district's AYP results in this morning's newspaper. The only "it" some principals will be "getting" is how to raise the reading or math scores of certain groups of kids.

Please stop saying, "They just don't get it." It may reflect on your lack of empathy and understanding, not your principal's.

* The session itself was great!

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (5)

Reminds me of teachers who say "I taught it, they just didn't learn it". If those who feel so strongly about "it" paid more attention to providing saws to those who needed saws instead of giving them hammers we might not be having this conversation.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDean Shareski

We must say "She doesn't get it" several times a week. We're stopping now. We'll spend our time figuring out how to offer her a hammer AND a saw. Thanks for this!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Johns

My experience is that people who don't "get it" don't because they are completely immersed in their own worlds or their own work and haven't had the chance to learn anything about it.

This is very common among administrators. They spend the bulk of every day in meetings and hence have almost zero time to use the web. At home they may be more engaged in raising kids and taking them to soccer practice. It's no surprise, then, that they don't "get" Twitter or Facebook or 4chan.

That doesn't invalidate your comment that we should be nicer to people who don't get it. But at the same time, it is genuinelty true that they don't get it, and they should be cautious about making judgements (and management decisions) based on the state of their own knowledge, rather than listening to the informed opinions of those who do get it.

(The other part is that it's important that those opinions be informed - I can think of instances in which people who think they get it has offered me their opinions on things, but because they have been so narrowly focused on that they 'get' they don't appreciate the wider picture.)

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Downes

Great post again - Doug.
Way too often I worry that we school librarians are the ones who "don't get it".
When talking to folks about that fact that there are a lot fewer school librarians in Michigan than there once was, I need to also remind them that there are all lot fewer students, teachers, school districts and administrators. The problems we face in schools are part of the greater problems schools are having - If we think we can fix school library problems without fixing schools and school funding, we don't get it.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Staal

Hi Tim,

Too many of us don't understand that the education game's rules have changed. I honestly think we are moving from tradition to accountability being the driving factor in many decisions. For good OR bad.


Hi Donna,

I think it is very hard for anyone to realize that he/she may have a blind spot - me included!

All the best,


Hi Stephen,

Ironically, I would guess that many administrators might say techs are too immersed in online activities and don't ever get out into the "real world" (an expression I hate!). But like it or not, the admins tend to have the power and that makes us the ones who need to become more empathetic.

All the best,


Hi Dean,

I am increasingly convinced that empathy is the most critical skill necessary for change. If you can get into somebody else's skin, you can motivate or persuade.

Hey, congrats again on the ISTE award - very, very much deserved.


August 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>