Another dot in the blogosphere?

Caught not taught

Posted on: December 8, 2015

We have all received email or snail mail notifications claiming to contain “gentle reminders“. They might also request that you “revert back” to someone, possibly as a response to the gentle reminder.

I do not take kindly to messages telling me to “kindly” do something. Just say please.

Then there’s “cum”. Its ambiguous use makes for much sniggering. For example:

Hat tips to @hsiao_yun and @genrwong for contributing some of the ideas and links.

What all these awkward phrases share is that no one actually taught an office administrator or poster maker to write like that. Someone started using the phrases, the words seemed official or high-sounding, and uncritical readers became uncritical users.

They did not need to be taught such phrases. They caught them like a cold. Sneeze, snort, pass it on.

I have reflected on things are that more caught than taught. I am referring to how people learn by observing, mirroring, and picking up behaviours of others.

One need only marvel or be surprised at what kids say or do. How often have you heard or said, “I did not teach them that! Who or where did they learn that from?”

If you are a teacher, the answer is: They learnt it from you. There was no curriculum, lesson plan, objectives or outcomes, practice, assessment, etc. But the kids learnt it anyway. And these unintended lessons stick like superglue.

Video source

The video above is a good example of what I am referring to. But this sort of learning is not reserved for kids.

The lessons here are:

  1. Recognise that learning does not just happen in the classroom. More often than not, it starts, continues, and ends outside of it.
  2. We should be mindful of not just what we say, but also how we model desired outcomes.
  3. It is important to be reflective and critical. If something bugs you, do not brush it off. It might be your common sense screaming to be heard.

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