Why is EdTech Victorian England?

Dame School via Wikimedia Commons

Dame School via Wikimedia Commons

By Sara Henschell

Last night I overheard a lot of people casually talking about teachers and women in some pretty banal ways. Someone said, “Teachers have never been professionals, they are tradesmen and apprentices.” Another was talking about the gender split at the conference and said something along the lines of: "there will be teachers and they are women." P.S. for the record, I agreed to a point, statistically there are more female teachers and there are less women in tech, but there was a generalization there that either needed more context or was banal.

Not all women are teachers. Not all teachers are women and having been a trade should not sound like a slur out of someone’s mouth. Guess what, in their similarly long history as a form of work doctors and lawyers were also tradesman, but now they get to be professionals. Is it because they are historically male-dominated forms of work?

When I tell people outside of teaching and especially at edtech events I am a teacher and the city I teach in, they have two reactions: “Oh, you poor thing.” As if I am a victim of circumstance and have been duped into teaching in the city in some Dickensian way. The other reaction is that I am some manner of saint who works in the salt mines to save all the children in Baltimore. Go ahead and mourn my lack of resources, but know that my room is JAMMED with tech. Because I am a savvy professional who has been resourceful and found ways to get the tools I need for my kids. That is what professionals do to get their job done.

Furthermore, my kids don’t need saving, they need access to education. They also don’t need some saint via Alcott to come and sacrifice herself and deny herself the ultimate female fulfillment and joy of just getting married and having her own little brood of sweet cherubs to be realized.

I don’t like ranting without solutions. There are a lot of people in EdTech who are not teachers. I am cool with that and happy to work with them. (and obviously, I do). I live with programmers; I realize it is easier for me to see what they do than for them to see what I do.

To change this the people making tools for teachers would be wise to make the effort to come and actually see the environment and people that they are making tools for. Just be sure to bring some coal for the stove when you come.


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