In one of the schools in which I was Head of Computing and ICT co-ordinator, some members of staff decided that I didn’t know anything about computers. The reason was as follows.
I was far more interested in how pupils and teachers might get the best use out of the education technology in the school — assuming I could get them to use it at all. When I arrived at the school, the computing area was like the land that time forgot and High Noon rolled into one: old equipment, which nobody wanted to use. So when, having been in the school about two days, someone asked me what the total hard disk space was on the school network, I said I didn’t know. That may have been a silly thing to say, but it was an honest answer: the last thing on my mind at the time was how much space there was on a network that nobody was using and which should have been replaced years ago. Unfortunately, she then decided to tell people that I was useless. Even more unfortunately, other staff at the school believed her.
I think my mistake, if that’s what it was, was to be straightforward and neither try to waffle on and blind her with science, nor offer to find out. I’m not sure that latter option would have made any difference anyway.
My preferred approach was to get on with the job and not worry about other people’s opinions, in the hope and expectation that in time people will be able to judge the truth for themselves. As they say, the truth will out. Unfortunately, that can take a while.
Although I have flagged up being honest as a mistake, which I thought at the time, in retrospect I don’t it was. Liars and gossip-mongers are always exposed for what they are in the long run, and I don’t see why one should compromise one’s principles for the sake of appearing to be something other than one is, or knowing more than one does.