What’s Your Best Before Date?

17 Mar

It’s amazing how quickly things go out of date. One day you have the latest, coolest tablet and the next, you’re lining up to buy a new model 🙂

Teachers go out of date professionally, just like tech. They go though the motions, doing the same stuff they’ve been doing for years. Staying current in tech requires an ongoing commitment to upgrade hardware. Remaining “cutting edge” as a professional simply requires an open mind and a willingness to admit you don’t know and are willing to learn.

I’m not an early adopter of devices. I don’t stand in line to get the latest updated gadget and my kids complain that we have outdated stuff. It’s not worth it to pay the huge mark up needed just to get a device first, especially when I know I can get the very same thing next year at a fraction of the cost. A year ago folks were lining up to buy the shiny new iPad 2. You can have the very same, brand new iPad 2, with all the same great features, for $100 cheaper today.

Once you commit to owning cutting edge tech you have to continually upgrade to stay in front. The downside of being an early adopter is that technology is continually becoming passé. Canada’s telecommunications industry is a good example of this, as explained by Jesse Brown at Macleans.

Canada used to be a leader in telecommunications technology, but lags behind 2nd and 3rd world countries today, and is badly in need of recovery and reinvestment. We were early adopters and invested heavily in the latest hardware to knit this spacious country together. Unfortunately, that was all pre-wireless and we haven’t reinvested. When Brazil and Korea were in line to get the latest phones, Rogers and Bell were at home trying to sell the back stock of rotary dial handsets.

Rather than devices I prefer to stay ‘cutting edge’ in ideas. I like to know what’s new, what the latest thinking is, and I enjoy reading about the newest, brightest ideas. It’s cheaper than getting the hottest devices and I don’t have to sleep outside the Apple store to do it.

Not everyone feels the same way. I was recently listening to sports talk radio (ok, so it isn’t all deep thoughts!!) when a broadcaster (in television) began ranting about hashtags. He reminded me of Dana Carvey’s ‘Grumpy Old Man ‘ going one about this “new-fangled” Twitter. The kicker came when he justified his ignorance by explaining he was too old to know about Twitter and then revealed his age. He was the same age as me (ack!!).

In marked contrast to this attitude is my former colleague at NYBE Peter Skillen (@peterskillen). Peter’s been helping teachers understand how to be better at teaching for a long time, and he inspired me to think critically about teaching and education when I first started. In all the time I’ve known him, he’s been well ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking about teaching and learning, and he still is.

I’m not sure how he does this. Maybe he was so far in front at the start that he’s just stayed there, and is waiting for the rest of us to catch up? I suspect it’s because he’s incredibly open to new ideas and completely committed to finding the best methods. He seems to be free of ego, willing to share and learn, and doesn’t act like he has all the answers.

I want to remain open to what’s new and exciting and fresh. I want to remember that I don’t know everything and that I still have lots to learn. I want to be able to put aside my ego and embrace the possibilities of the future. I want to stave off professional and personal obsolescence for as long as I can. I want to keep learning.

I have no idea what’s around the corner but I can’t wait to see. Bring it on!

One Response to “What’s Your Best Before Date?”

  1. Peter Skillen March 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Oh my goodness!!
    I am blushing and so flattered with your kind words!

    Thank goodness you are looking through rose-coloured glasses when you see me! 😉

    I have been blessed in many ways. Blessed to be in a profession for which I am so incredibly passionate.

    Blessed to have had a father who taught me never to accept the status quo but rather to question – to question ‘common wisdoms’ – to question authority.

    Blessed to have colleagues and family who tolerate my questioning ways and my ideas which often don’t fit with the ‘norm’.

    Blessed to have a thirst for learning and blessed to have ‘knowledge flows’ from smart people such as you, Andrew, who help quench that thirst.

    Thank you.

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