Another dot in the blogosphere?

Talking is cheap, walking is expensive

Posted on: November 16, 2014

This is a rant.

Educational vendors and leaders may know how to talk, but they often struggle to walk a plan or policy down the road.

Over the last few months, I have met several people who fall in these categories. They hear about “educational innovation” and “disruption” and talk about MOOCs, whole school approaches, or other flavourful processes and products.

Their knowledge of such changes in the educational landscape tends to be superficial. They use buzzwords and that is all they remain in terms of implementation because they do not connect cognitively and emotionally with teachers or educators.

If the implementation does no harm to teachers and learners, I would be fine with it. But when they bring in experts and “experts” at high financial cost, with low contextual awareness, and zero follow up, I object.

I liken such moves to hit-and-run road accidents. The difference is that implementations like conferences, seminars, and workshops are purposeful.

I wonder why some schooling outfits will throw money at someone overseas to buy acronyms like AfL, DI, DT, LS, TfU, and UbD when there is perfectly good (or even better) self help or local expertise. WTF?

The problem used to be that vendors did not speak the language of schools and educational institutions. Now they do some basic research, latch on to buzzwords, and target policymakers and administrators.

The policymakers and administrators may or may not have been teachers before. Those that were teachers may not have been good ones or they actually prefer not to teach. They are not averse to building ivory towers and learn to play the policy and administration game well.

Plans built on poor pedagogical foundations and a lack of ownership are very expensive. They waste money, time, and effort. They demoralize and disillusion. They create change apathy in the long run.

This might sound harsh. But informed and reflective leaders, middle managers, and teachers will probably nod their heads in agreement.

I would rather they remove their heads from the clouds and learn to shake their heads at people who do not bother about context or pedagogy.

2 Responses to "Talking is cheap, walking is expensive"

Hopefully it’s a phase most will outgrow. I know myself and many of my postgrad classmates were similarly caught up in the hype as well… But as time went on and the primacy of paedogogical execution/implementation over idea generation became obvious (e.g. lectures are given a bad rep but a well executed lecture can be immensely helpful for learning over a lousily produced flipped learning experience), most of us became more measured in our treatment of edu innovation… Fingers crossed the ed startup landscape will mature as well =D


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I worry about backward growth or regression in the context of systemic change. I see this happening too often. Teachers or school leaders attend courses or conferences and are inspired by new ideas and rhetoric. They return to their contexts and their efforts fizzle. Very few implement effective and sustainable change. Why? They don’t start with the right people or the right foundations.

Liked by 1 person

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