when hardware fails
Mr. Brown walks into the supply room with a candle in his hand,"How does a school expect its teachers to use the Edison Projectors if the electricity keeps going out?"
"I know. I not only don't have electricity, they forgot the paper shipment system updates, so my entire system of operating has crashed."
"Crashed? That's a bit extreme. Besides, operating system? Really? It's paper, Tom. It doesn't have to be a system."
"Good point, Brown." (If they insist on changing the name colleague with the word "teammate" then I'm going to call him by just his last name and drop the "mister" entirely. Brown, for his part, has started bringing sunflower seeds and scratching himself. If we're going to use a sports metaphor, might as well go all out.) "But it's impossible for the paper and pencil system to work when they won't do a few purchase order updates. What's the point of one-to-one pencil to student ratio if I can't keep things updated?"
"People ask me why I'm not switching over to pencils and paper and Edison Projectors and phonographs. You know how often slates break? Never. You know how often I run out of chalk? Never. I keep a huge stash of it under my desk. Chalk doesn't get old, so I don't do any updates. It's cheap. It's portable. It's durable. Tom, it's an issue of taking care of hardware. That's why schools don't have meaningful pencil integration."
"Perhaps. Some day, I imagine there will be machines that make copies for you and I won't have to worry about whether kids have paper, because they won't have to copy information from the board. We won't see the human errors, because it will come down to pushing a button."
"Yeah, but think about this, Tom. A hundred years from now, they'll have telegraphs in each school and people will be able to access information from around the globe. Yet, the telegraph connection will break constantly. They'll have copy machines, but the machine will jam daily and they'll forget to order paper for it."
For all the talk about teachers being motivated to use pencils, no one seems to address this issue. A teacher isn't going to create phenomenal PowerSlides, if the Edison Projector might not have electricity. A teacher won't create a true pencil-based lesson if the access to paper is unpredictable. Teachers want to have some certainty that the hardware they use will work. Few of them relish in the unspoken role of improvisational speaker meets babysitter meets handy man while a group of restless kids sit on their hands and wait to learn.
No one does this explicitly, but on a subconscious level, we become timid about integrating new tools, because we are never sure if the tool will work properly. We plan a lesson but then plan a back up lesson or a backup of the backup and it makes us a little skittish. Like a carpenter with a wobbly-handled hammer, we know that tools in schools are often unpredictable in their failure and in becoming overly careful, our students miss out on a full education.