The Bottom Line
This post came to me this week as I prepared for a restorative conference with a teacher. The shape of it has been in flux, but I knew that it would have to do with the way in which money can be a barrier, and the way other concepts connect—and with schools, it’s always a tightly knit Gordian knot composed of innumerable strands. So, while I do often write informative pieces, this post will probably read more like a reflection on where we stand with modern education and innovation in schools.
I spent a good while in preparation for a restorative conference around an incident that had occurred in a classroom (I won’t elaborate because of confidentiality). The process of working on this project had me doing some fascinating research, and it took me down many a rabbit-hole. But the thing that happened, and I’d forgotten how often this occurs when I do very specific education research, was that I kept hitting pay walls. I’d find a link that was promising, follow it, and read the description, then see that there was nothing more than a link for someone to sign up for a course, or order a book, or pay $35 dollars for a journal article.
Inside, I’m thinking, “shouldn’t this stuff be available to teachers without it costing an arm and a leg?” Then I hush that inner voice, and carry on, because I know better by now. I’m usually not too worried about it when I run into these situations, because there are often other paths toward what I am looking to do. But this time, I was working on something that if done correctly would really help with a difficult situation, but because I was under a time crunch, I couldn’t do what I’d normally do when I hit a pay wall—utilize the world-class UVa Library. I didn’t have the ability to do it, and it was driving me nuts. I was able to cobble some adequate research together, and the actual conference felt good as we wrapped with the kids, but it just left me feeling like I probably missed some major part.
The pricing for most resources is not intended to exist at a teacher level, but rather a school or district level. And, If you’re looking at a course, it is not convenient if it occurs in Chicago when you live in Charlottesville. Add trying to match your calendar to whatever conference/training schedule the company has... Sheesh. Anyway, my point is that I was feeling like I was working with a few hands tied.
If I didn’t live nearby a university, I wouldn’t have had access to the several items on SOLO Taxonomy earlier this year when I was developing a method with a teacher. I also would not have been able to research podcasting in schools a few years ago for a grant that I received in conjunction with a 12th grade English PLC. It frustrates me. It really does.