teaching tools · technology · Web 2.0

Tim Russert… White Boards… Respect for Low-Tech Teaching…

Most Sunday mornings, I can be found watching “Meet the Press.” This Sunday morning I watched “Meet the Press,” but not really, since Russert’s chair was empty. As I’m sure you know by now, Tim Russert, the host of “Meet the Press” died of a heart attack this past Friday afternoon. The world of politics, the news media, and his family have suffered a tremendous loss since a man who had true integrity is gone.

I’ve spent the past few days watching the shows which have memorialized Russert. Images of Russert that stick out in my mind are those of his low-tech white boards, which clearly demonstrated the Electoral College numbers and his thinking on so many election and primary nights. There were many times when I thought about those white boards and said, “Hmph. Why can’t he use technology to show us this?” However, the more I think about the white boards Russert used, the more I realized that this was the tool he wanted to use to clearly convey what was happening or his thinking to a nation full of people watching him. People watched Russert and expected him to teach them. People watched Russert looking for answers. People watched Russert and wanted the truth. With his low-tech white board, he always gave us all three things.

So how does this connect with teaching? Well, too often I think that many of us high-tech, Web 2.0-savvy teachers might scoff at the traditionalists who are still using chalkboards and white boards. I’ve been one to secretly think, “You couldn’t type that up?” or “Why don’t you e-mail that to me instead of giving me a paper copy?” I even got frustrated once when I had to explain what a thumb drive was to a colleague. However, I think I’ve been unfair. I’ve judged other teachers, just like I judged Russert’s white boards, because they weren’t tech-savvy.

“Good teaching is good teaching.”

That’s what our mission statement says. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a teacher is using an overhead projector or a document camera. The more I think about it, I’ve come to realize that a typed-up graphic organizer is no better than a hand-made one if it helps kids better understand a concept. Low-tech teaching,a s long as it’s good teaching, needs to be respected, even in this high-tech world we live in.

Personally, I’m high-tech. Between my wiki, my blog, my PPTs, my Elmo, and my LCD, I don’t think I could ever go back to being low-tech. However, after realizing that one of the greatest minds of our time, Tim Russert, conveyed so much information through a simple little white board, it’s made me realize that we have to respect the low-tech methods that others use to convey information. Afterall, “Good teaching is good teaching.”