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« Mobile Learning: A Visit to Flitch Green Academy | Main | Further thoughts on the flipped classroom »
Thursday
Oct182012

You must be joking, right?

I don’t know if many people ever look at the categories that blog posts have been assigned to. I know I do sometimes, especially if I’m looking for a particular article or type of article. But, in the interests of making people’s lives as easy as possible as far as finding articles on the ICT in Education website is concerned, I not only assign articles to categories but sometimes make up new categories in order to be even more specific. Thus it was that I recently created a new category called Really?

By Dennis Hill http://www.flickr.com/photos/fontplaydotcom/The question mark is important. I wanted a category into which I could place articles about suggestions, ideas, “initiatives” to which the only rational response is, or at least should be, “Really?”.

We seem to be living in an age in which the more half-baked the idea, the more likely it is to find traction. I wonder, often, if this is because people think, “X has said this. X is an intelligent and wise person. Therefore this must be sensible.”

In The Madman, Kahlil Gibran tells a story of the Wise King. One morning, everyone wakes up insane, because the water supply has been contaminated. Everyone, that is, except the King, who didn’t drink any water before going to bed. Seeing that he was the only sane person left in his kingdom, and therefore regarded as mad by everyone else, the King drinks the water and becomes insane like everyone else. And they, of course, are relieved to discover that their King has, in their eyes, regained his sanity!

That story makes me think that none of this is new (The Madman was published in 1918).

So, I wanted a category in which I could write articles which questioned conventional wisdom, or to be more accurate, unconventional twaddle presented as wisdom. I don’t think we do enough questioning, at least not in public, which is rather odd for a profession which, surely, is about nothing if it is not about getting people to question, and learn by so doing.

I thought of categories like Monday Moan or Tuesday Tirade, but rejected such ideas because (a), I didn’t want to be tied down to a particular day on which to vent my spleen, and (b), although I often refer to my outpourings self-deprecatingly as “rants”, they’re actually not rants. Well, not usually anyway.

What I really wanted to call the new Category was “You must be joking, right?”, to reflect the fact that sometimes when I hear or read things my first response is to check the calendar to make sure it’s not April Fools’ Day. I took that phrase from that great treatise on gender differences in the area of romance, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, by Shania Twain. But it’s too long for a category title, and the abbreviated version, YMBJR? would make no sense to anyone . And so it was that I settled on the simple, but in my opinion incisive, “Really?”

I have already published one article in this new Category (click on the word “Really?” in the Categories list below this article to discover it), and there will be more. But in the meantime, sit back, relax, listen to Shania Twain, and listen out for the line “You must be joking, right?”

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