2023-11-29 19:58

Kobus van Wyk

The fears we have to fight

The e-pioneer fights fear.

A phobia is defined as an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia involves a sense of endangerment or a fear of harm.

Some fears have names (the “phobias”) but others not.  If a fear does not have a name, it does not make it less real.

Severe cases of phobias are best treated by trained therapists – it is not expected of the e-pioneer to fulfil this role.  However, in dealing with teachers, e-pioneers need to help those who are mildly afflicted.

Two common fears the e-pioneer must contend with are:

Technophobia:  a fear of technology.  Paradoxically, this is one of the less frequently encountered fears among teachers.  Even though many of them don’t want to use technology, they seldom fear it.  Uncertainties about the use of technology can be overcome by progressively introducing it and demonstrating the benefits of using it.

Atychiphobia: a fear of failure.  This is a real fear for many when they are pushed into the world of technology.  It is closely related to catagelophobia – a fear of being ridiculed.  The most effective way of overcoming a fear of failure is to help teachers to succeed.  Success breeds success.  As teachers experience successful use of technology their fear of failure, and accompanying ridicule, will evaporate.

Fighting fear requires patience, compassion and empathy – important qualities of an e-pioneer.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.


  1. We have been doing a national research project for the past two years in various schools, and have found these fears to be the greatest preventer in teachers using software and hardware. We provided them with our educational software, and we even organised donated computers for them. At all schools we showed the Future Pen, a digital pen that makes any smooth surface interactive. We have provided training, both in hardware and in the application of our software in a classroom setup. Yet we find that many teachers are so fearful, that they are not able to work independently. I agree whole-heartedly with the views in the articles, but we have found that involving learners, who are digital natives in the setting up of equipment, helped some teachers by making the process less involved and the class-time less disrupted in terms of setting up equipment or loading software.
    Lalien Cilliers, http://www.futureentrepreneurs.co.za

  2. Thank you Lalien for adding this perspective based on practical experience. Your suggestion about involving learners is an excellent one. We are in the process of establishing an “adopt-a-teacher” initiative where learners will adopt teachers and act as guides for them through the mazes of their digital world.

    The greatest barrier to the establishment of ICT in education is certainly the attitudes of teachers – collectively we have to meet this challenge. An education department can’t do it on its own – I value the role that commercial organizations (such as yours) can play in this matter.

  3. I think the “adopt-a-teacher” initiative is a great one! It would empower the learners and it would definitely take the pressure off teachers. I am all for empowering teachers in their own growth, but at times they are simply to busy. I am an ex-teacher myself and the whole process reminds me a bit of Maslow’s hierarchy – if I can steal from it: it felt to me at that stage as if the marking of the papers and teaching in the classroom was the “survival” part of it, whereas the multimedia and interactivity felt like “nice-to-haves”. It took a while for me to make the paradigm shift that learners actually “speak digital” and that I need to get use “their language” as a tool in my teaching. In other words, if I could get around the “technical stuff”, then interactivity would greatly benefit and streamline the learning process.

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