How many times have you heard people exclaim that younger teachers are good with technology because they have grown up attached to their devices, and connected to the internet? This level of comfort and familiarity must translate into a high level of technology integration in their classrooms, right? Can we make this generalization?
At one point, I believed this to be true. After all, when I started teaching in 2001, I was younger, and I integrated technology in my classroom whenever its use provided richer learning experiences for my students. Understandably, the tools I was using in 2001 were significantly different from what’s available now, but it’s all relevant.
Over the years, my position on this issue has shifted significantly. It’s true that younger teachers use technology more in their daily lives, but that’s simply a reflection of how society and technology has progressed. They don’t embed technology into their instruction because it is dictated by their age; it’s simply because they have an interest in technology in the first place. This would be the same for any teacher when they enter the teaching profession, regardless of age.
I believe that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t see a greater number of younger teachers turning more to technology in their teaching is because they are modelling the teaching practices that were used when they were in school. They replicate how they were taught not that long ago. They are led to believe that this is standard pedagogy. Over the years, I have also hosted many teacher candidates from various faculties of education, and I’ve discovered that these ideas are not only reenforced in teacher’s college, but in most cases, this was the model used by host teachers in previous practicums. They were usually a little shocked when they joined my classroom!
More often, I am recognizing that it is our veteran teachers who are more likely to be embedding technology. They are in the position of having been out of the classroom long enough to break out of that mold, and depart from prescribed notions. Perhaps, because of their experience, they also have a better handle of curriculum and classroom management, which allows them to delve into more innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Let’s not assume that because a teacher is young, that they will be best positioned to be the technology gurus and the innovators in our schools.