Thanks but no thanks…..
I went to a school called Ella Du Plessis, which I attended for about a 9 months when I lived in Windhoek. I thought since I had somewhat of a connection to the school, albeit many years ago, that it would serve as a starting point.
When the principal finally agreed to see me, I was invited into his office where I presented my ideas. Half way through the conversation, I noticed that he really wasn’t interested because he started looking around his desk for other things. After I finished telling him the ideas he kindly told me that the students were very busy and that this was a busy time of the year for him and the teachers as they were also beginning to register the students for the next semester.
Being told no was not the issue for me, nor do I have any reason to doubt that the principal was indeed busy. What I found fascinating is that he seemed to have absolutely no interest in anything technology related or even imagine any potential benefit for his students. I was expecting to be kicked out of the office for wasting his time, but luckily that did not happen.
I went to Jan Jonker School where the only connection I have to it is that it’s located close to our house. The principal was able to see me after one of his meeting and again I pitched my ideas to him. He patiently listen and without giving an indication as to whether or not he would agree to the idea, he asked if he could see the iPad.
I think he was the first adult that I have seen in a long time that excited about the iPad. He was particularly interested in the iBook store because of the many free books that were available especially the classics. He seemed to be looking at the iPad as a device that would save the school cost on printing and purchasing of physical book. The principal then coyly confessed that although he believed in the power of technology, he knew little about computers beyond using the machine for typing. He said that he “used to have a computer right here on my desk but had to pass it onto the secretary because hers went down and she could use mine more than I do.” The school according to the principal has one computer lab for the students to use but his frustration was that there was not enough staff at the school to service the machines and it is too costly to bring someone in.
The principal was very excited about the iPad and about the possibility of spending a day with students talking about technology. He agreed to let me come into his classrooms and requested that I arrive early in the morning so that I could spend the day going from class to class. It was agreed that I would come in at 8am on Friday and that he would spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday making arrangements with his teachers and sorting out which classes I would go attend.
Friday came, and I went to the school with my two brothers so that the process could faster and that I would have more than 1 iPhone for students to interact with. As we arrived, I was told that the principal was out ill and would probably not been in for the whole day. I asked if I could see one of the head of department (HOD) for assistance (the administrative structure is Principal, HODs and teachers). I quickly discovered that no one at the school was told that I would be coming. The principal had not set up any meetings and the HOD was hearing about my idea for the first time. Having been a teacher, I would have been annoyed if someone was suddenly brought to my class and I had to suspend my planned lesson for the day. So although the HOD was trying to figure out ways to accommodate me, I thanked him for his effort and told him that I would contact the principal to reschedule.
About two hours later, I ran into the principal in the city, who apologised for not being available and confirmed that he was just coming from his doctors as he was not well. He promised that he would phone me once a different date was set…I’m still waiting.
Date written: 2nd July 2010
Word count: 847