Teachers, technology and weaver birds

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 | education | Comments Off

We can learn so much by observing the marvels of creation around us.  For example, if you are a teacher who battles to come to grips with technology, you may take a lesson from the weaver bird.

Are you overwhelmed by all the different hardware components that make up your system?  Or the many software programs you have to learn?  Are you stymied by the new ways in which you have to work when you incorporate technology into your teacher’s toolkit?  Are you scared that you won’t get it right, and that your learners have a technological advantage over you?

What does a good teacher and a male weaver bird have in common?

Don’t despair.  The male weaver bird does not get it right the first time either.  He builds a nest – sometimes several nests – and waits for the female’s approval.  In most cases she turns down the first offerings.  He would then patiently dismantle the rejected nest and build another one, until she is satisfied.  Mr Weaver is not discouraged when a nest is turned down … he is not all that concerned about getting it right the first time.  The main thing is that he gets going – he knows that eventually he will succeed.

So, teachers, if at first you don’t get technology working the way it ought to be used, remember that the important thing is to get going.  The learners in your class are already following the example of the weaver bird – they are not scared to try, retry and try yet again.  And eventually they get it right.

The weaver often recycles material from the discarded nest and uses it for the next one.  This also contains a lesson: skills learned while making mistakes are valuable stepping stones for further development.

The moral of the story:  if you persevere, you will succeed.  Don’t worry about getting it right … just get going!

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Can learners learn how to handle information without a teacher’s assistance?

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | internet, technology | 2 Comments

Just because children have the ability to use a mouse or know where to press the buttons on a computer does not mean that technology will benefit them. 

Let’s use the internet as an example.  Learners quickly discover how to surf the net – oh yes, they do!  But how beneficial is such surfing to them – and how safe is it? 

The situation reminds us of ducklings.  It is often said that learners take to technology like ducks take to water.  When ducklings are hatched they follow their mother to the nearest river or pond.  They know instinctively that they must jump into the water and when they land in the water they know what to do – their mother does not have to teach them how to swim.  But she does teach them how to forage for food and she protects them when she senses danger. 

An interesting thing happens when duck eggs are hatched by a chicken hen.  When the ducklings emerge from the eggs the hen will cluck-cluck and the ducklings will respond and follow her.  Until they sense water!  Then nature takes over – they make a bee-line for the water, dive into it and swim.  It seems as if they are programmed to do so. 

Cool!  Or is it?  Without a mother duck, how purposeful is their swimming?  With the hen standing on the shore, she can’t teach them how to find food – she knows how to forage for food on land, but has no clue how to do so in water.  The mother duck would be able to alert them to dangers – such as crocodiles or water snakes – and lead them to safety.  A mother hen standing on shore has no experience in this matter. 

The application of this analogy should be clear.  Modern learners may easily find their way around on the internet but without the guidance of a skilled teacher how beneficial will their browsing be?  They won’t know how to search purposefully for information and they’ll be exposed to the dangers of the internet – without guidance or protection.

As teachers you can’t afford to stand on the periphery of technology – you must jump into the information pool and show them the safe way to find relevant information.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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