I was almost right!

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So my wife and I are sitting at this nice little sandwich shop on TaiKang Lu enjoying our toasted sandwiches when all of a sudden she turns to me and says,

“It won’t work, you can’t lock down the computers like that.”

Shocked I replied, “What?”

“You can’t give a computer to a teacher and then tell them they can’t personalize it. The first thing I do with my computer is change the wallpaper and screen saver. Teachers aren’t going to use computers if they can’t personalize them.”

So it was at this point that I wish I had my MP3 player to record the conversation. It would have made a great podcast. It didn’t take me long to realize that she was talking about Doug Johnson’s Becoming George posting. I took the postings, added a little challenge to teachers and posted it on my U Tech Tips blog. I then e-mailed a newsletter to all the educators in our district. My wife, I’m pretty sure, is the only person that reads it. That was last Wednesday and today (Saturday) at lunch she just started in. My wife is the smartest person I know. You always hope to marry up, I just don’t know how she saw me clear down here.

“You have to let teachers experiment with computers. That’s how they learn. How do you expect teachers to use computers with students if they can’t play and learn how to use them? If you gave me a laptop and then locked it so I couldn’t change the wallpaper and add programs and make it mine then I wouldn’t use it, and if it was a laptop do you know how often I would bring it home?”

Trying not to smile I responded “How often?”

“Not at all, I don’t want some computer that isn’t mine, it wouldn’t be mine unless I had control over it.”

“You know what they need to do is just hold teachers accountable if it gets broken. If you check out a school camera and you loose it you replace it. The same should go for computers. If I open an e-mail that has a virus and it destroys my computer then I need to pay to have it fixed. Sure the school technician can fix it, but I’ll have to pay him the $60/hour or what ever it is for him to fix it. You only need that to happen to one or two teachers and they’ll learn quickly that you don’t open e-mails from people you don’t know. You need to train them how not to screw up their computers!”

“It would be like giving a teacher a classroom and not allowing them to decorate it and use the wall space the way they want to. When a teacher comes into their room the first thing they do is change it, make it theirs. There are a million ways you can set up a classroom, but each teacher is different and will want to set up the classroom the way they want it. How many times did you change your classroom.”

Me: “I don’t know a couple times a year.”

“See you changed it when you need to, when the project changed, or you got tired of desks being this way so you put them that way. And bulletin boards, you change them with each unit of study, taking down old stuff and putting up new stuff. Computers should be the same way for teachers. Maybe I need this program for that unit and that program for this unit. If this program doesn’t work or do what I want it to do, I need to be able to change the program, or go find one that will work for me. If you want computers to be used by teachers, then they need to be able to use them. You wouldn’t tell a teacher they can’t customize their classroom, why would  you tell them they can’t customize their computer?”

“You’re right, we don’t need to lock down the computers, we need to train the teachers. Do like you did last year where you grouped teachers by ability and comfort level. This group learns how to e-mail, and that group learns how to blog, or whatever the latest thing is. You have to train the teachers to use the technology, you can’t give them a computer and tell them they can’t use it how they want…that’s just stupid.”

Me: “Can you repeat that?”

Wife: “What part?”

Me: “Just the first two words of that last rant.”

Wife: “What did I say?”

Me: “You know.”

Wife: “What?”

Me: “You said I was right.”

Wife: “I did?”

Me: “Yes you did.”

Wife: “Are you sure…I don’t remember saying you were right.”

Me: “You said it.”

Wife: “You’re just making that up. I would have remembered if I said you’re right. I remember everything.”

Me: “Yes dear.”

I gotta give her credit, she listens to me ramble on about technology all the time, and she gets it!

Here’s to you Sweets!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. You inspired me today to go over to my husband, give him a big kiss and tell him he was right today. Without looking up from his book, he says, “I’m glad you finally realize that.”

    A moment or two later he looks up and asks, “about what?”

    I shrug and say, “I don’t know. But whatever it is, you’re right about it.”

    Being a man who knows how to enjoy the simple pleasures, he didn’t need any more than that. He’s a happy man and he’s got you to thank.


  2. For once your wife and I agree. I’ve been having a similar discussion with my IT director and my wife, strangely enough. Our school is looking at adopting a laptop program for grades 7-10 next year and I recently sat through a presentation put on by another international school who is already running a laptop program. I, among other IT teachers asked how much control the students would have over laptops they were required to buy and the answer was basically none. The students were never given access to the admin profile for reasons including viruses getting on the network, configurations, etc. I understand that this may cut down on the amount of troubleshooting and risks for the school’s network but as a person who has taken virtually no formal training in IT but who now teaches it, it begs the question, how did I learn about computers. Simple, I messed about with them for hours on end. I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, how to navigate the inner workings of an operating system, how to install software, how to configure an internet connection and how to fix problems as they come up. In my opinion, if we’re going to give people tools they are expected to use in the real world, we’d better provide real life expereinces. If we don’t, are we teaching them anything of value?

  3. Thank you for sharing. I strongly agree with what you’re saying. In fact, teachers and students should make a practice of civil disobedience when presented with equipment that is locked down. We are all caught up in fear of the consequences of disobedience. Only children are aware of the necessity to struggle against power that concedes nothing.

    I elaborate on this in a series of “Transformation” blog entries. One of the first is “Powerful Beyond Measure.” Here’s the quote:
    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


    Thank you for sharing this story. It is powerful and I will share it often with others in my district.

    Wishing you well,
    Miguel Guhlin

  4. Pingback: Educational Technology and Life » Blog Archive » IT versus Teaching

  5. Great story, and wonderful laughs! Thanks for sharing and adding to the list of good ones to share with others…

  6. Pingback: Left Lane Ends » Blog Archive » A good/worthwhile story and a nice laugh!

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