Archive for November, 2009

Facing the future: can Facebook be a future space?

November 13, 2009

My old school’s song has lyrics by its most famous principal, Frank Milner, a man born in the Ninteenth Century so his lyrics have a Edwardian feel but the sentiments can be quite modern. 

“Facing the future with nought to dismay us

We shall not fear what the years may unfold”

This song has always seemed to me to be a call to embrace the new as opportunities, not threats, so I am one of the Woodstock Generation who tweeted on Facebook about it being forty years since Woodstock.  (You would be surprised how my Thirty Something colleagues and my Generation Y sons reacted to that post!)  I also set up this blog to explore how the new information and communication technologies could be used in education.   I am aware of others older than myself, who are also tweeting and blogging and supporting my point of view, which is why I reject the opinion that older people can not adapt to these new technologies.

Yet it is true there is resistance  and disbelief  throughout the community that there can be any value in social media.  Last year while exploring with other residents of my community the idea of e-government at the local level, the convenor spoke of “silent resistance”, the phenomenon of decision makers and managers who, while speaking in support of change, will themselves revert to older methods and express an unwillingness to make the changes in their own lives.  Dennis Littky and Robby Fried, in 1988 called this type  “the Glad-Handing Administrator”.

Today I write about a challenge issued by The Learning Circuits Blog to discuss this issue, although I disagree with the writer’s analysis which sees the issue as a generational one.  Just as there are those of the Woodstock Generation open to new ideas, there are those in Generation X and Generation Y who have closed minds, – the Champions of Inertia  and the Programmatic Power-Mongers described by Littky and Fried in their article.

Is the issue all doom and gloom then?  I believe human beings have a capacity to keep on learning all their lives.  The motives which work against them adopting change are the same things which motivate our economy, fear and greed, perhaps with a big helping of ignorance.  Bolstered by the negative publicity towards new media by the traditional news media, many are fearful of what they don’t know.  They are fearful of appearing foolish if they “get it wrong”.   They also can perhaps glimpse that the new age of collaboration means that traditional hierarchical power structures will become irrelevant and, with it, the loss of their own positions of power.

Reference

Littky, Dennis and Fried, Robbie (1988) “The Challenge to make good schools great” NEA Today 6 No. 6 (January) P4-8.