“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.” – Joseph Campbell, Writer and Lecturer
Victor Guthrie has called the UAE home for the past three years. Originally from Southern California, Victor grew up in a little city just south of Los Angeles. He brought his geniality and love for teaching to his classroom and watched as his students got excited and excelled at learning. His initial plan to pursue a career within the corporate world changed after he completed his MBA in international business. He realised that his passion was not in business, but in education. This led to him pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning.
Who inspires you most?
Risk takers… this isn’t a particular person, but rather the collective group of innovative educators who are willing to see education differently. If I had to choose a single person, I’d say it would be the philosopher, John Dewey, who recognized and articulated the need for an educational reform in the early 1900s.
What are two steps that you are taking to advance your career?
I continue my education formally in schools, actively through events and conferences, and socially through my Personal Learning Network.
What are three key steps that other educators who are interested in implementing a robotics programme in their schools ought to consider?
Students only need two things to begin with robotics; access to the equipment, and an educator who is passionate about learning, trying and doing. Even without formal robotics training, a good educator can leverage the collective knowledge found on the internet, to guide the classroom activities.
What are some of the ways in which you use ICT to help other educators to improve in their practice?
Part of our Strategic Plan calls for the expansion of innovative technologies to improve teaching and learning. To help accomplish that goal, this year we created a technology innovation pilot project to support teachers’ exploration and training in new classroom technologies. Some of our teachers have opted for a series of focused technology trainings, while others have begun to test new technologies that can assist with their delivery of curricular content.
Tell us two technological gadgets that you must have in your classroom and why?
I truly believe that you only need two foundational pieces in a classroom: a personal learning device (i.e. a laptop) and connectivity to the Internet. I have found that classes can continue to operate without electricity, but when you remove the connectivity, the learning is often impacted.
What advice would you give to other schools that are struggling with implementing the use of technology in their classrooms?
The first thing to consider is the learning environment. What are the strengths and weaknesses of that learning environment, and how can the implementation of technology make it better? All too often I have seen schools spend a lot of money on buying technology without a good idea of the desired objectives, or a good plan of how to use technology to achieve those objectives. Technology by itself will only serve as a distractor. However, technology driven by a comprehensive implementation plan, specialized training, and ongoing support, can positively impact student learning.
What is the best advice that you have received and how has this helped you?
As educators in the 21st century, we are no longer the sole repositories of knowledge. Our job is not to fill our students with stagnant content knowledge that can be found in books or online. Instead, we need to recognize that we are all learners drinking from the same fountain of information. It is our job as educators to help students to find information, to validate that information, to leverage, synthesize, and communicate that information, and solve a problem or meet a need with that information. These are the 21st century literacies, and it looks vastly different from how most of us were taught.