red-doorThere are many reasons why a person will be in the position of gate-keeper in special education. A gate-keeper can be a person who gets to control the flow of ideas and experiences available to a student, particularly in relation to technology. Gate-keepers can be individual teachers or in positions of considerable influence, being the arbiter of technology choices for whole school districts.

Here are some examples of gate-keepers;

1. Resource Bound Gate-Keeper. This person wants to be able to offer more options but simply doesn’t have them. This is probably the most common variety in Australia today. While they have some resources there aren’t enough to do all that is needed and this has led to a general outlook of “having to make do with what we have”.

2. Poverty Bound Gate-Keeper. This definition applies to most of the developing world where there are just no resources. Some would argue though that there are still a few pockets in Australia where this applies and where students are left to operate with little or no technology resources.

3. Neocon Gate-Keeper. This gate-keeper has a strong attachment to an earlier time and sees no reason to change time honoured traditions. These people encourage a “group think” mentality and are generally actively intolerant of new ideas.

4. Stressed Out Gate-Keeper. This gate-keeper is simply overwhelmed with the amount of work they are faced with and resist taking on new ideas and experiences simply because they don’t have the time. This can be self-perpetuating as innovation and new ideas are often time saving.

5. Oblivious Gate-Keeper. This gate-keeper simply doesn’t know what the options are, not by choice but due to geographical isolation, lack of funding to attend conferences and a critical lack of professional development.

6. Well Intentioned Gate-Keeper. This gate-keeper makes decisions about technology options based on their own skill level. They feel they must first be the “expert” to pass down that information to their students. Often these people find it hard to accept that the student is going to be better at technology than they ever will be.

Perhaps there are other types of gate-keepers? The bottom line is that we need to be sure that our attitudes aren’t a barrier to students achieving the skills and experiences they will need in our digital world.

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