THE BLOG
02/06/2013 03:26 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Hey, Teacher Trainers: Get a Geek!

Hey kid, I sympathize with you. You just got a batch of freshly minted teachers in your school and some are geeky, but some don't have a clue. You need teachers who know how to direct your passion for technology and media from consumption to literacy. You need teachers who think, "Projector, the cloud, the Web? No brainer!" All teachers should all learn how to use the tools students live with and integrate them into the classroom, right? So why don't they?

Maybe deep down inside they think that because you students are surrounded by screen time outside of school, and you seem to know how to use all the tools just fine, you don't need guidance. Actually, the opposite is true! Use is not literacy. Consumption is not competency. Surfing is not safety. Here's an example from their world: just because you read a ton of comics at home doesn't mean you don't need to learn to write persuasive essays and haikus. The same thing is true for tech!

You need teachers to help you not only watch movies, but make them. Do they know that you could use your smart phone to make a movie trailers or commercial, teaching you how to influence people with media -- and how you are being influenced? You could -- but not alone! Oh, and games, the games you play. Well, some teachers seem to think gaming is a phase for you and will go away if they ignore this part of your life. That's not very teacher-like is it, ignoring a student's greatest passion? What if all teachers had to play a game or two -- that you love -- so they could help you make one. Hello, programming skills, anyone? And since we are in the 21st century, you might study game design in college.

Oh, and I know you love tablets. I wish each and every new teacher also knew that when used socially and creatively, they are like magic pieces of paper that students can endlessly paint on... together! But unlike blank paper, they are also research tools, textbooks with active illustrations and links to maps and trusted deep databases like the Library of Congress. Which reminds me, who but teachers will lead you through the maze of information that's out there, to help you find not only lots of information, but good information? You need teachers to help you practice critical thinking, and synthesizing research into informed opinions. (Did I mention that tablets have cameras and photo/video editing built in, perfect for documenting your work?)

And then there's the part about the online learning tools that you'd love to use. What if all math teachers were open minded enough to let you spend a few weeks finding out if mastery-based tutorials like Khan Academy can help your test scores? Wouldn't it be cool if a teacher met you on a safe and legal social network you use outside of school, to see the poem you shared with your friends?

Maybe some teachers don't understand that technology is a neutral tool. If it's doing bad things, it's not the tool's fault. Just like a hammer can build a house, it can also hurt a thumb. (Some teachers who have trouble with technology tend to fixate on old, nay-saying research and bury their heads). These days are not business as usual. Our tools are more powerful, and easier to access, than ever. It's time to integrate them into every class.

But how can we? Do you have any ideas? Is it possible, if every teacher is not a born geek? Bring a geek or two in and teacher school could geeked up all the teachers, not just the ones who were geeky to begin with. Maybe then some of them wouldn't sound so silly and uneducated about the world students live in. Maybe now we have to realize that teacher trainers need to put some faith into the students' world and teach teachers how to tune into you, before you students tune out.