Monday, August 25, 2008

Board's response to the technology resolution is in... and it ain't pretty.

Photo: Affiliate Conference - Philly
The NCTM board has replied and as expected it ain't pretty. See Board Acts on 2008 Delegate Assembly Resolution.
I arrived at the affiliate conference in Philly on Friday (8/15/08) not knowing that the Board's action plan was made public. So when I asked Jim Rubillo about it, he was surprised that I didn't already know it was already posted on the NCTM website. (Later I discovered that info was so well buried that I had to search for it.) Jim tried to be upbeat about the Board's (in)action on technology explaining why the Board can't do much mostly because of the expense. But when I pressed him on it and asked if they looked into any creative ways to raise $$$, etc. he said that (the creative part) was the job of the program committee and there is not much that the Executive Director can do about that. So the power is with the Board and the program committee...I should have known. The rest of the Friday evening program was handled by Affiliate Committee folks who had us go through a meaningless icebreaker and then introduced us to John Maxwell's words of wisdom on leadership via CD which I could barely hear because the audio was so bad. That would have been OK except for the fact that our homework was to read John Kotter's take on leadership and change entitled "The Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions" which NCTM sent me ahead of time to read. So why Maxwell as the starting event? Don't know. My affiliate colleagues (mostly presidents and president-elects of state groups) sitting at my table didn't seem to be bothered by that. I was already dreading day 2 believing that maybe my trip down here was going to be a waste of time. The only redeeming part of the day was that I was staying with Scott Steketee (of Key Curriculum Press) and his family. I had a good time commiserating over some good ale we shared. Day 2 was much, much better mostly because of Hank Kepner (NCTM's new president) and Jim Rubillo (Executive Director.) Their contributions made the trip worth while. Jim's two presentations one on NCTM and the other on (a welcome surprise) "The Iceberg is Melting." Rubillo turns out to be a very savvy guy who intimately knows the ins and outs of NCTM and the strengths and weaknesses of the folks who participate in NCTM trials and tribulations. Also, what came across is that he wants to be a change agent and he's figuring out ways to avoid the obstacles that the Board can sometimes create. (Maybe, thinking outside of the box is not on their job description?) In other words, I came away with the feeling that Jim was one of the good guys. Also, Hank told me that NCTM needs to do more in the areas of technology and needs help from people and groups like mine to come up with workable ideas. So I think there is some room for grass roots efforts behind the scenes that could make things better. Of course we are in the midst of the Slow Revolution that Larry Cuban writes about, nothing dramatic like some of us more impatient types would like to see. The other thing that I hadn't realized is that each of the 230 or so affiliates are independent groups that don't have to follow any NCTM predefined protacol which opportunes a group like CLIME to grow into something that could showcase technology in math learning and teaching at its best using the tools of Web 2.0. Does this mean we're on the verge of a possible tipping point where students will actually WANT TO learn the same things that we encourage them to learn? It won't be easy. But then nothing of quality ever is. Just ask Jim and Hank!

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