Friday, November 28, 2008

Anything Worth Doing ... worth doing well. worth doing poorly.

Which way did you expect the sentence to end?
Which one is correct?
Could both be correct?

A quick internet search revealed that others have put a twist on the old adage, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Most notably, Zig Ziglar tells us, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn how to do it well."

This subject seems particularly on point when we talk about the use of technology in the classroom. I remember vividly how much technology was transforming the administrative aspects of my job twenty years ago. A spreadsheet served as my gradebook. A database kept track of all of the music in the band's library. Word processing software held all of the documents I was producing.

Since that time, technology has become cheaper, better, and more accessible. That being the case, many in the teaching profession speak of "not being able to turn on a computer." Others who may be able to handle some of the administrivia of the job on a computer hesitate to use technology in their teaching. I believe the root of the problem goes back to one simple thing: We must be willing to something poorly in order that later we will be able to do it well.

We get good at what we practice. When our tools consist of a piece of chalk and a chalkboard, we become good at conducting a lesson that way. Given a digital whiteboard or document camera, we would find ourselves fumbling. Why go through that? Why not stick with that which is comfortable?

In the short run, sticking with the familiar pays off. After all, learning something new takes time, and time is in short supply. "Someday," we will learn to use technology. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. We wake up one day and wonder where the last ten years have gone.

Technology is a time-saver when used well. Technology makes things easy. There is one caveat: We have to be willing to make mistakes as we learn. We have to be willing to deal with some frustration at first. We have to be willing to ask questions and get outside of our comfort zone. We have to be willing to do it poorly, at least at first.

Some people are not willing to go through the process of being bad on the way to being good. I fully realize that we could substitute any term from "ice skating," to "flyfishing" in place of "technology" and we would have a valid argument. Just about anything in life that is worth doing takes some degree of skill in order to do well, and skill comes with practice, and practice takes

What is it in your life that is worth doing yet you have not devoted the time? Why have you continued to say "no" to devoting the time necessary to developing it? What else could you say "no" to in order to say "yes" to this area of your life? Maybe that area is using technology in the classroom. Maybe it is something else. Whatever it is, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing least at first.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
--Leonard Cohen

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