Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Boot Camp as Metaphor

I have been working with secondary teachers this week. As we were discussing technology integration, some explained that they just came from boot camp. A Google boot camp! I nodded, and we continued but in the back of my mind I was thinking: "boot camp? Why is it boot camp?"

I find it fascinating that as we get further away from the military as a nation we adopt more militaristic language to describe everyday non-military activities. Boot camp is a foundational experience for anyone that has served. It is a formative period in the life a recruit (or volunteer) that through intensive interaction, extreme activity, and a lot of yelling, to socialize you to army life. It serves to create new bonds with peers and help separate civilian life from a new and challenging reality.

The term got co-opted by exercise routines. The first few mimicked actual boot camp practices (complete with boots) but then it drifted farther and farther. So now a few intensive days or even hours of technology training are called boot camp. Really? The part of me that went through boot camp 30 years ago is rebelling. But then an idea occurs to me.

What if we recreated a boot camp for teachers in the spirit of boot camp? Technology integration boot camp. Longer than a week, intensive and transformative. Say five weeks of full immersion. Not just about technology but creation, teaming, collaboration. The idea would be to transform teachers in fundamental ways, so their practice is inherently different. For this transformation to be successful, we need to continue support for the first year of implementation. Boot camp could be a way to induct new teachers (who would love a few more weeks of pay). I believe we have at leat a partial model in the writing project that creates this kind of a transformational space with teachers.

So, Boot Camp? Only if you mean it!

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