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Posts Tagged ‘attitude

Seth Godin was spot on in suggesting that employers look for attitude instead of expertise in new hires.


But employers rarely do this, if at all. Why? Reasons for this might include:  

  • Schooling focuses on content and measures for it
  • Attitudes are less easy to measure and not prioritised
  • Inertia of the schooling system is an excuse for the work world when it reaches for low-hanging fruit

When I read this tweet and clicked on the link to the article, I expected to find out which life skills these student needed and why.

The article mentioned conflict management, resilience, and cross-cultural understanding as life skills. Is resilience a skill? It seems more like an attitude first. How about cross-cultural understanding? It sounds more like a value to me.

I am not making an argument for pedantic semantics. I am for saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Otherwise we will have different takeaways from what is supposed to be common ground.

That aside, the “skills” were mentioned in the headline and listed in one line in the second paragraph. They were not elaborated upon in the remaining 24 paragraphs of the article. How about a life skilled value of delivering what you promised?

I can empathise with the frustration expressed in the tweet above, but I do not sympathise with it.

I wonder: Which is the bigger objection — enduring boring procedural lectures or having to learn something different?

We can all probably relate to not enjoying webinars because they are disguised as lectures that do not connect. If you read the tweet thread, you gain insights on the disorganisation and poor pedagogy of the online session. The issue is not that the training was on Zoom. It was bad training on Zoom. At least two people pointed that out.

But I should point out that being a veteran at performing PCR swabs is not the same as supervising others who will be performing ART swabs. The swabbing tasks might be performatively similar, but the roles of a swabber and a supervisor are different.

How different? Put it this way: A platoon leader will need to know and do what a grunt does, but s/he must also operate in the capacity of a leader and manager. This takes preparation and practice.

Rising above, I wonder how many teachers here have uttered similar complaints. Theirs will not be about swabbing but possibly about facilitating online learning.

To those teachers I say: You cannot transfer what you do in class wholesale to the online realm. There are new and complex skills (e.g., bridging transactional distances, designing for asynchronicity, evaluating the affordances of edtech) that need to be learnt and practiced. But to do this, you must unlearn the attitude that you already know how to teach.

KSA is short for knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It is an old scaffold for teachers to plan activities that might address all three aspects of learning.

I wonder if teachers use KSA to guide their own learning of the educational possibilities with technology. I use a personal experience to elaborate.

A few weeks ago, I was unexpectedly asked to help a relative measure a room’s dimensions. The problem was that he did not have a tape measure.

I had read about the iPhone app, Measure, that could get rough measurements but never had the opportunity to use it authentically. My knowledge of the app that came from my daily consumption of all things technology.

The iOS Measure app.

Using the app was a matter of following on screen instructions and iterating by trial and error. This was the simple skill by practice and refinement.

I was willing to use the app because I am open to possibilities. I also prefer to find authentic or otherwise meaningful uses of technology. This was my overall attitude towards technology use.

You cannot leave out any of the three elements when learning about and integrating edtech. Knowledge alone of the existence of an app or how it was used in some context is empty without skill. Competent use of that app without purpose or passion is directionless. A positive attitude without knowledge of the efficacy of that technology is blind.

A frontline teacher or educator does not need a Masters degree to learn about various forms of design, affordances of technology, or edtech frameworks like TPACK. But at the bare minimum they need to practice what they preach — KSA — as they tinker with edtech.

Picture a difficult student or an indifferent teacher. What is worse coming from both is not “I have done my part” or “I do not know”; it is “I do not care”.

“I have done my part” and “I do not know” often stem from ignorance. This can be remedied with teaching, modelling, mentoring, coaching, practice, and monitoring.

“I do not care” comes from a place of willful ignorance. Learners might be made aware of a harmful mindset or behaviour, but they choose not to change.

It is easy enough to school the “I have done my part” and “I do not know” learner. But the “I do not care” individuals need a sustained and long-term education.

This sort of education is not always pleasant. It requires the unlearning of old and bad habits and the learning of new ones.

I like to think of the process as smashing glassware, melting the shards, and shaping the sludge into something new. The process is hot, sweaty, and requires much experience and skill.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. Just remember that it is tough on the dog and the trainer.


A reply like “I’ve done my part” sounds innocuous, right?

This is was what an adult learner said to me when I asked him why he was not contributing to his group’s discussion.

I was surprised, angry, and disappointed, roughly in that order. He had not “done his part” despite sharing his views because he did not listen to his peers, offer responses, or raise questions.

He did the bare minimum and expected the rest to carry the weight of the discussion.

Anyone who has done group work or projects for school or work knows at least someone like that. People with bad attitudes is why group work and projects have a bad name.

I did not let “I’ve done my part” get away with it. I gently but firmly reminded him of his other responsibilities to the group.

He was not done. But he might be in a different way. I do not forget a face and I will remember his name. I take my role as watchdog as seriously as I do educator.

As a teacher educator, I was aggressive in making sure that student teachers who had bad attitudes did not go on to affect and infect children in schooling.

As an educator of future faculty, I will not claim “I’ve done my part”. I still have lots to do.

I wanted to write about the changes to the PSLE scoring system or how Pokémon Go seems to the new edtech toy. These dominated my news feeds this week after all.

But I had such an enjoyable time bringing a group of people together last evening that I decided to make and share this image quote: Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. It emerged as the theme of the evening.

The experience consisted of three events.

My first was a meeting with a potential client. I let them know that I did not believe in their proposed workshop and that the suggested fee was very low. 

If I said yes, I would have betrayed my values and my worth. I was not going to reach for rotten, low-hanging fruit nor was I going to help others do so.

The second event was something that I had attended previously and wished for others to benefit from. It was a joy to receive ringing endorsements like “It was a mind blowing session for me… Thanks for the invite” and “That was an awesome session”. Their positive attitudes made my day.

While that event was in session, I held my own dialogue with someone who needed a listening ear and some advice. I benefitted just as much from the conversation because he shared his own stories and the quote. I had no doubt that his attitude would carry him far and high.

Why was attitudes the theme of the evening? We were not content to settle or to think we already knew better. We looked beyond the obvious, shared openly, and learnt humbly. Uncaged from bias, we were free to fly as high as our attitudes let us.


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