Tech Geeks vs. The Suits.

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Computer Nerd.

Computer Nerd.

It’s on.

A battle of historic proportions is taking place.

It is the classic scenario of good vs. evil. And both parties think they are playing the role of good.

The future of education hangs in the balance.

Worse yet, some of the people involved don’t even know a conflict is happening.

Tech Geeks (a term of endearment) are consumed with the idea the Suits (revered and esteemed colleagues of mine) are not learning/using technology at a quick enough pace.

The Tech Geeks are a large group made up of computer teachers, technology directors, and everyone else with a love for all things futuristic. These are not people you want to cross (especially if you want your email to work). They have knowledge and time on their hands.

The Suits of course are people like me. They are the ones running schools all over this great country. They are easily recognizable because they yell at kids for running in the hall, make rules no one understands, and look tired all of the time.

This group also includes central office robots and school board members. Just about everyone over 50 years of age can be lumped in with The Suits.

Tech Geeks crave everything new and cutting edge. Suits like the status quo (at least the techies think so).

And this is where the problem lies.

In some wars it is hard to pick sides, but not in this one.

Tech Geeks have a voracious appetite for all things technology. You are either with them or against them. No fence straddling here.

They love the 5 P’s (I have this copyrighted, so don’t use it… unless you are willing to pay me 4 cents each and every time) which are Phones (cell… the newer, the better), Printers (wireless preferably), PC (laptops with big screens), Programs (which includes Twitter, Plurk, and any cool website), and Presentations (they love their workshops and the people who put them on).

The Suits are confused, nervous, and don’t know what they don’t know.

Simply put, it is the future vs. the past (educationally speaking).

The Tech Geeks are all over the internet screaming that The Suits are falling behind and don’t know what is best for kids.

The Suits don’t hear the screams because they don’t Twitter, Plurk, Google, or do anything internet related (other than check their email).

This whole situation frustrates the Tech Geeks to no end.

What is funny is that in the middle of all this there is a dirty little secret.

The secret is… The Suits know they are behind in technology. Way behind.

They just don’t know how to catch up.

The Suits are the kid in class that doesn’t know enough to even ask a question. They are afraid to raise their hands.

So consequently, they aren’t progressing.

I shouldn’t speak for all suits, but I am going to (it is my blog you know).

They are confused by technology and what the future holds…for them, for students, for teachers, and for schools.

They have been successful in their careers without technology, so it is easy not to see a drastic need for it. Especially when they don’t understand it.

Over the last 10, 20, 30 years they have climbed the career ladders to get where they are.

They have put in time, worked hard, studied, taken classes, and attended conferences. All of this without anything more than a basic knowledge of computers (as in they know how to turn them on).

Now towards the middle or end of their career, Tech Geeks want them to jump aboard the runaway train of technology.

Every day, they fall farther and farther behind and there is no safe jumping on point (in their minds).

Somehow we have to bridge this gap.

Bring the good Tech Geeks together with the good Suits (there are some out there you know).

All of this makes me ask the question “Can’t we all just get along?”

But it brings up another question for which I don’t have an answer.

“How?”

At least I don’t have an answer in this blog.

Oh wait… someone just stumbled by who has the answers to all of our problems.

** Note from wife…I know, I know…I have had a lot of notes here lately. I think I might have a start on how to bridge this gap. Anytime I give a professional development session at a school, I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE the administration as well as the technology department to attend. I do this because I know three languages…geek, administration, and education. (4 if you include my ability to ask “Where is the bathroom?” in Spanish. How sad those 5 years of Spanish class don’t come in more useful. That is truly one of the only things I remember.) I do have my Type 75 Administrative Certificate in addition to my Teaching Certification as well as a corporation that provides technology assistance and professional development for schools…so I feel pretty qualified to add this note. When we get the Tech Dept. as well as the Administration to sit in on the training, everyone comes out on the same page. All three parties have huge eye openers regarding the position of the other groups. It is amazing when we can get them all in the same room. SO…if you haven’t made it a priority for EVERYONE to sit through professional development sessions regarding technology…YOU SHOULD! It would help us bridge the gap of the differing needs and create an awareness and possibly a mutual respect for each person’s position.

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18 Responses to “Tech Geeks vs. The Suits.”


  1. Charlie A. Roy
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 8:35 pm

    An interesting (in a good way post). For schools to truly advance with integration of technology administrator buy in is pretty key. I have a buddy who is a principal in the area who refuses to have a computer in his office, use email, or spend any real money on technology. It is almost laughable when he sends me faxes with one sentence questions on them. Always entertaining though. But then again my own boss doesn’t use email, have a cell phone, or a computer in his office. Somehow he gets everything done. Your wife is very wise.


  2. Glen Westbroek
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 8:36 pm

    I agree that there is a difference between the use of technology by administrators & some teachers. Some experienced teachers, however, are at a similar challenge as The Suits mentioned above.

    I have found that being the leader (in the trenches) who loves the bleeding edge can be difficult. Some teachers don’t want to hear what kids enjoy doing or how change is helping in the classroom. The Suits seem to listen and nod their heads, but not really know what I’m talking about.

    My most effective experiences have been having The Suits drop by the classroom and watch the engaged students. Even not speaking the technology language, The Suits recognize engagement and on-task behavior. After this experience, The Suits came and asked me about the lesson’s activity and how/why students were so involved.

    My next goal is to help The Suits, along with the less enthusiastic experienced teachers participate in using one application or technology. When Digital Immigrants become familiar with a technology tool, they seem less afraid of it. (I’m not sure that Digital Immigrants is the correct term for the individuals I’m describing. This group would probably vote to secede from the Digital Nation.) One change at a time is all I ask.


  3. Dave Meister
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 8:41 pm

    There also needs to be an acknowledgement of the battle between the tech geek teachers and tech challenged teachers. Some teachers still see technology as a crutch….kind of like their predecessors a century ago who did not like the fountain pen…and feel students depend on technology too much. (What will these students do when they need to know how to sharpen a quill and don’t know how?) I would love to see the suits and other tech challenged education professionals have to go to dentists that still use ether until they integrate technology tools into their leadership and teaching repertoires.


  4. Ed Shepherd
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 9:01 pm

    As a school administrator I understand I can not know everything about technology. I also believe I still must have a little bit of a working knowledge with a large range of it. The good news for me is I am always interested at what the “new” thing in tech is.


  5. Scott Carter
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 9:16 pm

    I am a geek caught in a suits job. Is there hope for me?


  6. kelly christopherson
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 9:18 pm

    I will have to put my foot down. Did you hear it. No, well, it’s on the carpet but I did put it down (or I’d have fallen because I can’t balance and type at the same time). I am a suit, as you call them, and I’m frustrated with the geeks because they move too darn slow and put up so many blocks at the schools that it’s darn near impossible to work with technology.
    I use all the tools plus I yell at the kids to stop running, take away their cellphones and make up rules that I don’t even understand when I go back to use them (it did make sense when I wrote it.)
    Professional development is a component but access is an issue. What’s the use of having PD if one can’t use half the tools anyway?
    I do more work with young teachers, trying to help them learn technology, than I thought would be needed and I’m a nervous wreck from trying to get people to understand that cellphones are not the end of proper grammar as we know it.
    Although I can empathize with you and I do see many geeks making comments about using the tools, they are the minority. Other geeks, the ones who control the filters and mess around with the network, are everywhere, messing with the minds of the suits, telling them all about the new technology and then putting up blocks so it can’t be used. (You should see this great thing called Google docs. Oh, you can’t, it’s blocked here. But if you were any type of suit, you’d get out there on your own time and learn about it.) PD is only a part of the whole picture. We need suits who understand that the tools need to be accessible and then, maybe, we can start making some progess. Or at least get it so I can play better games and look busy instead of making rules that I can’t remember.


  7. Mark Stock
    on Jan 16th, 2009
    @ 9:44 pm

    When I first became a superintendent and walked into my new office there was no computer in the office. That was 13 years ago. No cell phone. No email. No blog. No word processing. Nothing.

    The previous sup’t wrote everything out in long hand on a long yellow legal pads and someone typed it out.

    Not that long ago when you think about it.


  8. Pat
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 4:45 am

    I agree with you of course and this will be a topic of conversation over the breakfast table! But there are many suits (not you of course) that refuse to come to the meetings to learn new technology. They are like many of the teachers who refuse to let the students know that they might not know something. It is going to take people at the top (school board or superintendent) to force many suits to attend training. That is of course if the people at the top believe that technology is important. I think your wife has the right idea though (wives are always right!). Thanks again for another thought provoking post!


  9. eduguy101
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 9:08 am

    I am a suit, with the heart of a geek—a hybrid of sorts. I feel I have a slight advantage because I have a degree in Compter Science,as well as a teaching (and administrative)certification, and have embraced new techology from the start, punch cards, to current trends. I have to admit being a suit hampers my inner-geek, as I spend days in meetings and making rules.
    I fully agree, we suits needs to have a familiarity we the technology that we want teachers and kids to use. We must sit through PD sessions, listen and paticipate. We need to have an inner tech geek .


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  12. Tech News
    on May 9th, 2009
    @ 10:38 am

    Thanks, I enjoyed reading your post. It’s nice to see someone writing something worth reading. Take care.

    - Jack


  13. Geek News
    on May 12th, 2009
    @ 5:01 pm

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more articles from you in the future.

    - Jack


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  17. Sin Yi
    on Mar 22nd, 2011
    @ 8:35 pm

    Hi i was wondering if i may use that picture of the man in front of the computer for a school project?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    Yes.

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