How to Hold an Opinion

If somebody called you a fence sitter, you almost certainly wouldn’t think of it as a compliment. You can’t be indecisive, you can’t hedge your bets. We need people with the courage of their convictions.

Recently a principal had the courage of his convictions and he banned laptops from his school.

But some people would prefer to go all the way and move towards a Paperless school?

So here we have two opinions on the issue.

SHOULD WE GET RID OF COMPUTERS FROM SCHOOLS?

NO

YES

Two diametrically opposed opinions on the topic. It makes for lively debate and holding such a strong opinion will apparently get your face on TV or in the newspaper. But it’s no way to think critically about anything.

For or Against. Yes or No. Black or White. Pro or Con.

We’re starting with the wrong question! The issue of technology isn’t a question with a yes or no response. How about a question like…

How useful is technology in education?

Well that’s better, but it’s still a very broad question. How useful is technology for what aspect of education? For collaboration? For note taking? For direct instruction? For literacy? For Numeracy? For Home Economics or Economics? For Physical Education or Physical computing? And what kind of technology?!

Now for any one of these questions I think you should be very happy to be anywhere on the continuum below.not much.PNG

mostly

middle

But this isn’t the full story. Because not only am I asking you to be a fence sitter, I’m also asking you to be an itinerant fence sitter! On any issue that requires an opinion, I’m asking you to hold your opinion with a very loose grip indeed.

Read, talk, discuss, think and allow your opinion to be swayed this way and that. This is a Growth Mindset, changing with the time. Something a little like this.

opinion
Ask yourself, would I rather have the courage of my convictions, or  the courage to say, “I’ve changed my mind”?

One comment

  1. I enjoyed reading this, particularly as it struck a recent chord!! I’m working at a University which uses moodle, teachers must upload lesson content after each class (supposedly) and additional materials, plus homework, and also receive assignment submissions etc. While I understand it’s a good way for students to review themes over the term and academic year, after a couple of terms using it I became completely convinced recently that it’s a waste of time!!! It gives students an excuse to skip class and not take real notes or hold on to handouts, they’re not cognitively or communicatively engaging with the material in the same way (or at all), it encourages cramming, and removes a layer of genuine interaction in that students no longer need to contact other classmates and/or the teacher to catch up on missed classes, discuss content, submit work face-to-face etc which I’ve come to feel is part of a language class. PLUS it adds a huge amount of teacher time outside class just updating it. BUT since reading this this morning I’ve been trying hard to also see the other side and not write the moodle off. After my little tantrum earlier this week (i’m not a technophobe but using it still drives me nuts) I’ve decided instead to find out from the students and other teachers themselves exactly how and why they find it useful, negotiate how we will use it to both our advantages in a more formal way next time, perhaps tentatively propose some changes in policy, and also not let sts (or me) use it as an excuse to avoid learner training and interaction outside of class…. so, thanks!!!

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