As I reflect on the mixed reactions of my colleagues to the influx of technology in our schools, I realize there is a running trend that causes me concern. We as educators seem to care so much about safeguarding our classes, lessons and quizzes from the Bart Simpsons of the world that we forget to nurture Lisa. What about Lisa? Doesn't she deserve the ability to learn at her own pace? Isn't she able to multitask? Doesn't she always turn things in on time? Why are we being so rigid on how we manage the students in our classroom and our expectations of them. Why do we immediately dismiss new innovative lessons based on the fear of cheating or other nefarious acts.
One reason I believe is the chasm between the learners of yesteryear and the learners of today is so substantial now that there is a lack of understanding of how life occurs to the students of today. Teachers often teach based on their own learning experiences in school and we are now at such a divide with the ubiquity of technology and social media that even the process of thinking is different for our students than for most of us educators. Now I am not suggesting that we let students do whatever suits their fancy, moderation of things like screen time is a must! But maybe we should spend less time trying to lock up every loophole and avoiding technology instead we should be breaking the glass ceilings we have created by using templates from the 20th Century to dictate the 21st Century classroom. Just because we fear the world of Wall-E doesn't mean we should condemn our students to a life of the Flintstones. Bart will always be Bart...finding ways to get under your skin, cheat or even Snapchat during your lessons. Why should Lisa suffer for his negligence? Karma will get him, but in the meantime have we spent too much time setting restrictions and ignoring innovation that we have inadvertently killed Lisa's creativity?
So the next time you find yourself worrying about locking the proverbial vault on a quiz or project remember that there will always be a Bart, a Danny Ocean or even a Horshack...but let's not forget that our purpose as educators isn't to exploit the negative behaviors, but the research shows that success in classroom lies in the positive reinforcement that we give to the Lisa like behavior, letting all others know that the culture in our classroom nurtures the ability that we all possess to be life long learners. And perhaps by the end of the semester, year, or much much later Bart will reorient his wayward compass ultimately finding that his happiness isn't in the antics he gets away with, but in finding his purpose through demonstrations of effort and integrity.