Change, teaching, CTL

“All Things Considered” on NPR ran a marvelous story yesterday that resonates nicely with the remarks from Dr. Rosenthal, one of the candidates for CTL Director. The story was described by ATC as follows:
“August 15, 2006 ยท Robert Sapolsky, a distinguished neuroscientist in his 40s, had a young assistant who played different music every day, from Sonic Youth to Minnie Pearl. That made Sapolsky crazy — and curious about why his aging ears still crave the music he loved in college. Is there a certain age when the typical American passes from the novelty stage to utter predictability?”
NPR : Does Age Quash Our Spirit of Adventure?
The concusions were, essentially, that people (and other mammals, apparently) have a window of time when they actively seek out, or at least do not avoid, trying new things. For humans that window is generally the few years before and after 20.
Now, the common perception is that people get “set in their ways” as they get older, but the story had some additional insight into this process, especially how it is not a general resistance to any change. It is pockets of resistance to some kinds of change, or rather, a desire to cling to some areas of the familiar. The ‘resonation’ with Dr. Rosenthal’s remarks is this:
mid-career teachers may know that they need to adapt and change in their teaching. They may even want to. But to do so they must overcome a natural discomfort with, and resistance to, change in certain areas. (Technological change is probably one major area.)
The question thus becomes: how can the CTL shape its offerings so that they start from, or are mindful of, this phenomenon? In other words, when we work with faculty to determine what we offer can we frame those offerings in ways that start from their point of comfort rather than ours?
As a group of ed-techies, trying new technologies is obviously not our particular area of resistance to change. We’re comfortable with that and so may often feel frustrated that others are not. (“Why wouldn’t anyone want to jump in and try xyz? It’s so cool! Can’t they see how it would benefit teaching and learning?”)
What specific approaches can we take to ensure that we are starting from a place that is comfortable for more faculty but that leads to experimentation with or adoption of all those “cool, new” teaching ideas that may involve new technologies?

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