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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sick of gurus

I’m sick of gurus.

The gurus of Web 2.0 in education seem to be en masse guilty of the Bellman’s fallacy (proof by repetition) and I actually find myself in a state of guru-fatigue lately. Attended a conference a few weeks ago and, while it’s always fun to hear big guns like Will Richardson, the whole exercise left me angry and depressed. For one thing, if I hear one more expert lecture in front of a large, passive audience to tell them that lecturing in front of a large, passive audience is a bad way of teaching, I’m going to scream.


What really gets me is how far removed the party line seems to be from the reality I experience every day in the classroom. So many of the big gurus seem to be saying the same things. What’s wrong? What is it that the gurus do that peeves me so much?

1. Overestimation of how plugged-in our pupils are.

2. Pretending that all this stuff (web-based or web-focused digital technology) works all the time.

3. Confusing access to information with learning. (A related sin: confusing collaboration with learning)

4. Demanding, on a knee-jerk basis, curriculum reform.

and the big one,

5. Underplaying the conflict inherent to schools.

This became a monster post, so I’m going to divide it up and address each of these points in a post of its own in the immediate future. I’ll link forward from here as these posts are made.

Post Script:

What I’m talking about here is slightly different from the ‘social media guru’ debate that has raged in certain quarters of the web lately. That has been more focused on self-appointed experts in the private sector.

So, not quite on topic, but this video has been produced with technology simply overwhelming in its sheer awesomeness. You know who’ll be playing with this soon…

I found this via Jason Falls, who made this video of his own:

So, again, not quite relevant, but the "shut up and get back to work" bit we could all hang over our desks.

This debate has been about what I would call ‘experts’, not ‘gurus’. The difference? You hire an expert to fix your problem. A guru cannot be booked to fix your problem, but some of them can be contacted for advice and many of them will appear in front of the congregation to give an uplifting speech (for a price).

The private sector is also a bit different, clearly, but maybe not soooo different…

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