June 26, 2009
Have you seen the article on the Top 30 Failed Technology Predictions? I'm sure these distinguished thinkers regret that their sage and serious words are now the topic of our fodder and laughter, but, oh well. One of my favorites (as I type away on my laptop) is, "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC). maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977. Another favorite, since I am near Seattle, Washington is, "There will never be a bigger plane built." ?A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.
I read the complete list to my husband and we laughed out loud at many of them. When my son popped home for a visit I said, "Sit down for a second. You have to hear these failed predictions. They are so funny!" I had read the first three and was moving on to number four when he said, "I don't want to hear anymore. I don't think they are funny. All these stupid people didn't jump on the bandwagon and they were totally wrong." "You're kidding me!" I replied. "No. The article annoys me because for every person who said something like that, there were people who believed, envisioned and worked hard to get there."
Hmm...my passionate, idealistic, opinionated, graduated from college yesterday, (I'm not exaggerating) offspring had a point (even though I still think they are funny). And it caused me to remember my days as a literacy coach. I worked with teachers who invited me in because they trusted me and valued my role as a collaborative colleague. Whatever they wanted to learn or get help with, we dug in together. I modeled mini-lessons, comprehension strategies, set up literature circles, demonstrated conferring, and helped analyze reading assessments. We had fun, and discovered the energy, flow, and joy that come from working and learning together.
Then there was the dreaded classroom...where I was sent...by the principal...to model what we'd been learning about best practice. Only to this teacher, best practice was what she already practiced, and had been practicing for the past twenty years. Busy little students worked hard on purple inked worksheets after a choral reading of the week's basal text. I put on my cheeriest most confident smile, walked in with something amazing prepared, only to have her leave while I modeled, or sat at her desk correcting the aforementioned purple worksheets. Like those quoted in the article, she was content with the status quo. She'd been through so many pendulum swings that she wasn't getting on another one, no matter what it was.
I hope I don't ever lose the ability to see the vision. While I don't believe in change just for the sake of change, I do believe in change that leads to true progress...progress for my kids, and progress for my own practice as a professional. I don't want anyone to ever look back and see my name under "30 Failed Teacher Predictions".
Speaking of predictions, Conan O'Brien recently predicted that in the future YouTube, Twitter and Facebook would merge together to form one humongous time wasting website called U Twit Face. I'll be a member.