Friday, October 29, 2010

Was It Something I Said?

Was it Something I Said?

It's all very well preparing an elevator speech, but the people you're delivering it to need to understand it. I have experimented with various elevator speeches over the years, and they have all ended up being misinterpreted by people who are not in education.

For example, at a recent meeting I said that I help teachers use technology in their classrooms to help raise their students' level of attainment. Five minutes later, someone from the business sector said, “...so if you're in software development, like Terry...;”

Wait a minute! Who said anything about software development? How does a phrase like “technology in classrooms” end up becoming a synonym for software development?

It's not just a matter of finding the right elevator speech, as I believed last year. A couple of years ago I bumped into someone who used to be a personnel officer in one of the places I've worked at. He knew me for 3 years, was involved in processing my pay packet, and helped me deal with personnel issues. It would therefore, surely, be a reasonable assumption that he knew what my job was.

Apparently not. He said to me: “I have some work for you if you're interested.” It turned out that what he had in mind was for me to install an antivirus program on his computer.

Without wishing to wax too philosophical, it seems to me that this is a clear example of the Sufi proverb, “When a pickpocket sees a Holy man, he sees only his pockets.”, or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's observation, that to someone wearing red-tinted spectacles, everything appears red.

In one of my teaching jobs, I had to listen to a parent while he went on and on about how kids should taught how to take computers apart in their ICT lessons. When I pointed out that the course was about being literate in the uses of computers rather than how they're made, he insisted that digital literacy could only be taught by taking computers apart.

I've had other people tell me that they know all about educational ICT because they used to program IBM mainframe computers with punch cards.

It's all very tedious, and I'm tending towards the conclusion that if someone doesn't have a clue about technology in education, or even modern education, it's because they can't be bothered to think about it properly. Surely there comes a point when someone who is, say, in their 50s or 60s can see that education is not the same as it was in their day?

Or am I being too unkind?

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