The problem of time and teaching

I just read a post by Bill Richardson over at weblogg-ed entitled “Read/Write Web is Work” that examines some of the very things I have been pondering…
Time…
I feel a tremendous lack of time when it comes to research and development of teaching strategies, etc. When I was in University, this was a constant thing that was expected of me. I spent countless hours digesting books, reading up on theory, and writing papers & essays. Now that I am a teacher, that time has dropped off to be whatever I can squeeze in between classes (ie when I am not marking student work or planning courses/classes) in snatched moments of hurried data collection, or at home when my son is asleep and my wife is busy. This problem of time is a huge one. How are we, as educators, expected to stay up to date in our teaching pedagogy and practice if there is no real time dedicated to personal research. I concede that there are professional development days, conferences, and summer courses for the taking, but there seems no regular time that can be devoted to ‘teacher learning.’ Richardson sums up the problem quite well when he states:

“most educators are not going to want to put in the time to make these literacies a part of their practice. To some extent, I understand why. It is work. And they need time and training that unfortunately they are not going to get nearly enough of. But on the other hand, if they’re not willing to do it on their own, they risk becoming irrelevant and, as David puts it, dropping of the edge.” (“Read/Write Web is Work”)

Social software is a great tool, but if we do not have time to explore this new niche in technology and practice implementing it as well as time to learn from those who have gone before us. I agree with Richardson: If we ignore these technologies, we ‘risk becoming irrelevant’.

Teaching critical thinking…
I think one of my biggest duties as a teacher is to encourage students to not just swallow what they are given as ‘fact’. Critical thinking is something that must be actively taught and modeled. I agree with Richardson’s claim that blogging helps to facilitate this questioning: “That’s the kind of work we’re talking about here, going beyond the “here’s the book, the book is true, we can all passively read now” method of teaching” (“Read/Write Web is Work”).
If blogs can help us help students approach their learning with a realistic but respectful critical eye, then I say bring on the blogs.

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