July 16, 2009

Risk slack or let go of the rope?

Filed under: about me,edtech,musing — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:03 am

Water skiers know that the key to getting up on the water is making sure you do not have slack on the rope that pulls you. At least that’s what seems to work. I am no water skier, but I watch them every day this time of year. Once you allow the rope to slacken, you fall, causing uncomfortable things to happen with your bathing suit, skis, and the hard surface of the water. But some skiers have mastered a graceful way to let go of the rope, gliding gently down into the water in a planned drop-off. They decide to take some time off the rope entirely, perhaps hopping back in the boat, but better prepared to “get up” easily the next time without bruises and sore places from a slack-rope fall.

The problem with technology’s speed is that teachers (and indeed MOST of us), do not have a chance to do a graceful drop-off. We dare not risk slack. If we don’t hang on to that rope and maintain some kind of form, we suffer an unpredictable tumble. And  the technology boat seems to have a bottomless gas tank and possessed driver.

There are times when I am flying behind the technology boat, carefully navigating new wakes (like a new computer 24 hours before a major meeting!) when I just want to let go, ease back down into the waves and float a bit. I believe all of us need permission to let go of the rope. The consequence may be that we do not progress as quickly to working on a single ski or a more advanced challenge, but it is worth it. We need to recognize that none of us is going to ever master all the new waves of technology, and we deserve some grace in our decisions. It is OK to decide not to ski into that wake, turn around that cove, or face that wind. There will be another soon. Even though the technology boat continues on its course, the waves in the water dissipate. So it is OK to ignore some of them. What is important is that my decision is not to risk slack on a rope I have chosen to grasp. My rope-release must be consciously done to avoid a painful smackdown.

Today’s waves I do not choose to navigate on the rope: my Google Reader’s 3000+ items since before NECC (and before computer crash). I think a graceful “Mark all as read” is in order.

Bobbing here in the water feels great.


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