‘lightning never strikes twice.’
One place they’re particularly prevalent is on any social media platform that teachers have discovered. Social media + education has led to the rampant proliferation of what Carl Hendrick calls, ‘the scourge‘ of motivational posters‘. Little nuggets of ‘wisdom‘ about teaching usually plastered over the top of an inspiring landscape or picture. Alternatively the quote appears next to a famous figure (Einstein is a popular choice) who probably didn’t actually say the quote in question. They’re so prevalent they’ve inspired a satirical section on Shaun Wilden and Lindsay Clandfield‘s TEFL commute podcast.
The word Deepity was coined by Daniel Dennett. He explains it (see video) thus:
The fact that these statements have appeared (and continue to appear) in print in teacher training publications is hard for me to understand. Not only are these quotes, after a minute of consideration, obviously not true, in many cases they seem to absolve students of any responsibility and lay everything at the teacher’s feet. what kind of masochist believes that a  reluctant learner must be the fault of the teacher or that  any student failure is the teacher’s fault? And the notion that ‘all behaviour has a positive intention’ seems indefensible until you notice that NLP experts helpfully redifne the word explaining that ‘positive here, does not mean good so much as goal driven.’ In other words, people do things for reasons. Behold! An earth-shattering truth reduced to banal triviality.
|He didn’t say this|
This quotes is wheeled out usually in opposition to standardised testing or in calls to rethink education. Climbing a tree is unfair for a fish because a fish can’t climb a tree. It follows, supposedly that this is just like how maths tests are bad for those who are not mathematically gifted. Yhe ‘take-away’ is supposedly that a fish doesn’t have the ability to climb a tree and some kids don’t do well at maths, and so tests are evil, right? This poster seems superficially deep, but why would teachers ask students to do things that they were physically incapable of?I could rant on about this quote for a whole blog post but I’ll direct you to this one by Todd Pettigrew instead.
|Credit: Carl Hendrick|
It seems odd that actual discussions about teaching and learning have, in some parts of the education world been replaced with pithy saccharin soundbites tweeted and retweeted ad nauseam. As Carl Hendrick notes. these kind of posters show “a culture that privileges the media-soundbite over critical reflection” Ironically, the same teachers who insist on the importance of critical thinking and creativity as the very pinnacle of a good 21st century education are often the ones thoughtlessly reproducing these edu memes.
My 100th Blog post. For this occasion I wanted to write something clever, deep and satirical. I couldn’t do that so I just wrote this instead. Thanks for reading.