AT&T - Part One

I meet up with Paul the Pre-industrial Poet for a pint.  We promise not to have "shop talk," but inevitably it slips in. I suppose it's because neither of us really views teaching as a shop.  If it were, we'd have left long ago for a higher paying gig - and who knows, perhaps that's why teachers will never completely demand their rights. It's easy to screw over people who aren't in it for the money.

Mr. Brown says he doesn't mind that they screw us over, but they at least owe us a smoke afterward.  He can get away saying stuff like that, because his highly educated accent makes even the crudest comments sound charming to Americans.

"So, I met with the sales guy from the American Telephone and Telegraph company. He's trying to sell me on this idea of having a telephone in my room and a telegraph at my school."

"Are you going to do it?" he asks.  

"I have my reservations.  It just seems like another example of a teacher-centered technology.  Like an Edison projector or a chalkboard from Man-Who-Stole-Fire-From-The-Gods company.  Seriously, a century from now every classroom will have a phone and teachers will still be the ones to use it."  

"Maybe.  Or a century from now, they'll find a way to combine the telephone and the telegraph and they'll make it portable.  It's what happens to all media.  Pictographs are permanent and expensive and located on cave walls and then they are portable on papyrus and then the printing press turns reading from a collective experience to an individual one.  Some day they'll do the same to motion pictures and telephones and maybe all on one device."  

"Sounds cool to me.  Students will finally have a chance to use a technology that was once teacher-centered."  

"Maybe.  Or maybe schools will ban them, because the real issue is one of power.  Who wants students to have instant access to information at all times?  Dangerous stuff, Tom.  Teachers won't want to give up the control.  So, my guess is like the pen pal networks and the personal journals, schools will ban the portable telegraphs."


  1. Still loving this. Assuming I don't get transferred this spring, in the fall there will be a phone in my classroom. Apparently it will be attached to my computer in some way. I have already broached the subject with my principal. "My computer" is not so much my computer as it is the classroom's. That is problematic, which is why I broached the subject in the first place. A tool for learning which is also a tool for administration leads to conflict. I have only an sense of what the addition of a phone might be like. One thing will be certain, it will become everyone's phone.

  2. Alan, if I ever turn this blog into a blook, I'll definitely have to give you credit for all the feedback you've given me.

  3. HI! My name is Amy Stork and I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I was assigned to follow your blog and post on three topics. I really think that it would be a great idea a phone in the classroom BUT, like you said the school would probably not let the students use them!! I think it is awful that there are endless possibilities out there for students to learn but schools are either too set in their ways or too afraid to let them use them! I look forward to reading more of your blog! You can find my blog at