This site is now an archive. For the current version of LCL, please visit

Can teachers be peers in an authoritarian system?


I recently heard, first-hand, about a staggering story of a failed program to introduce ICT modules in secondary schools in Japan. Two groups were the most strident in their resistance to the program. One of those groups was, to my surprise, the ICT teachers themselves.

Why would ICT teachers oppose the proliferation of their own subject? According to my source, it was because the students quickly overtook the teachers in programming skill. In a country where teacher authority is absolute and unquestioned, I can only imagine the distress the teachers must've felt when the tables so clearly turned. An opportunity existed for teachers to grow with their classes as peers, but that was likely too much to bear both psychologically and from a lesson plan perspective.

The second group of resistance was mothers. They resisted because these programs did nothing to prepare their children for the all-important college entrance examinations. These mothers are enthralled with the belief that the only way to provide a secure future for their children is that they ace those exams, attend a top-tier university, and land a plum job. What they fail to recognize is that technological fluency is already one of the most valuable skills today, and will only get more valuable in the future. That in fact, these ICT modules may be the most effective tool to equip their children to thrive in a hyper-dynamic future.

Wonderful ideas abound here at LCL, and I'm thrilled to be a part of this experiment. In this topic, I would like to form a Peer Group passionate about deeply understanding the root causes and the various dimensions of resistance (socio/cultural, psychological, and more) that often stand in the way of successful, widespread implementation of those great ideas. And through this understanding, extract actionable and, if at all possible, politically feasible recommendations to actually breakthrough that resistance. I have no idea what's going to happen, so fingers crossed. Everyone is welcome to join us!


I think you hit upon the two most important reasons, other than maybe money for computers, that people resist ICT training. Teachers have a very difficult time not being the source of ultimate knowledge in the classroom. I have come to realize in the past few years, that if we wish to "create lifelong learners" (ok cliche, but yes, this is our goal) than we need to model being lifelong learners to our students. What better way for us to do so than learn alongside and with our students. My first summer teaching robotics, I embraced the fact that some of my students had more experience than I did, and thus I asked them questions. One student went home and told his parents and then said that he kinda liked it. Taking advantage of students' expertise demonstrates how we value their knowledge and would only make them want to learn more. Our goal! Teachers need to let go of being the experts all the time and consult and learn with students.

Of course, the other issue is "preparing" for the exams, the tests, college, the future. Baloney! (maybe not completely, but telling the students this does not often motivate them or get them excited about learning) . How about experiencing the now and enjoying learning a new skill for the pleasure of it. As Feynman said when awarded the Nobel Prize "The Prize is the pleasure of finding things out."


I love the fact that you were able to embrace the opportunity to work with more experienced students, bkahn. It's often said that the best way to truly learn something is to teach it, so why aren't students teaching more?

These themes probably resonate quite naturally with the LCL crowd. But how can we get them to resonate with those who don't already think this way? This could be a marketing question. Or a demonstrating results question. Is it a modeling question (that we need teachers who are capable of doing these things, as examples)? Or something else entirely.