This summer I had the dubious honour of turning 40! According to many it’s the beginning of Middle Age and that slow descent into retirement – I, for one, don’t look at it that way… For me, it’s the next birthday after the 39th and the one before the 41st – no more, no less. However, to acknowledge this landmark I set myself a goal of cycling up Alpe d’Huez and its famous 21 hairpin bends. This is the most famous mountain on the Tour de France and just seeing it was a lifetime ambition – never mind tackling it on a bicycle! Accompanying me was my recently retired (and loving it) father who has a similar, if not more devoted, interest in cycling.
On the 11th August at 10-00am we set off on Le Grand Depart with about 50 other tourists and locals for the weekly tourist race. At 11-48am (and 43 seconds) we tumbled over the finishing line – joint second last but elated! A goal achieved, a sense of accomplishment obtained…
The reason I begin with this little adventure is that I got thinking about goals and achievement of them for both ourselves and our young people (there’s not much else to concentrate on other than pain on the mountain). What is the mountain that we should be encouraging our children and ourselves to train for and, eventually, conquer?
I can’t do it!
Not the usual complaint of the child in class but the complaint of too many of our teachers when trying to introduce new technologies to the classroom. Many of our teachers are afraid of the same technology that our children are immersed in and, as a consequence, fluent in. Should this be? Surely we should be up to date with the same technology they are using on a daily basis so that we can understand better. As teachers, I feel, that we have a moral (besides legal) duty to give all of our children the best opportunities in life – regardless of background. How many of us use a dictionary to work out the meaning of a word we don’t understand but won’t sit down to learn how to use a piece of software that will make a child’s schooling a more enjoyable and interactive experience? Surely it is the same persistence required!
However, I am not blameless. I know that my enthusiasm for such tech and software can be daunting and intimidating to ‘newbies.’ So, as with the climb up L’Alpe D’huez I will take it slowly in future and encourage fellow teachers along instead of racing ahead and hoping that they catch up. I will be the tempo setter and guide the staff up their personal mountains and, hopefully, sail down the other side in a glorious descent!
This will be my personal reminder to them that they can set achievable goals and be successful. Yes, it does take time and ‘training’ and persistence but isn’t that what is missing in today’s instant gratification society? Their ‘mountain’ can be simply mastering their tables or being as multimedia literate as possible by the time they leave my class. Whatever their ‘Golden Goal’ is, it should be something that is motivating enough to say ‘I did it! Now, what’s next?’
With a lot of technology, children don’t see this as the same mountain some adults do. To many of them, it’s just a new skill to be learnt and added to their ever-expanding repertoire. A bump, if you will, on the educational journey. Maybe it’s about time I turned some mountains back into mole-hills. (End of cycling metaphors!)