Conform to conformity or people will say you’re a punk!


November 8, 2010 by Willy Cardoso

It’s fantastic how teachers can easily detach themselves from what we call Education.

It’s also fantastic how polls and qualitative research don’t add anything to the improvement of Education. It’s fantastic how ambiguous and hypocrite a person can be and we don’t need to go too far to see it, it’s there, everyday, for free.

Frustration apart, I would like to take a look with you on this ‘monkey’ survey offered at a publisher’s blog. The blogpost is very good I have to say, it’s smart and asks the right questions, I don’t want to talk about that, I want to take a look at the survey, not at the questions, which are also good, but at the responses. I chose just a few of them.

Does education favour and nurture a particular type of person whilst devaluing others?

  • 92%  YES
  • 8%  NO
  • 38 Votes

Ok, I suppose teachers answered this question, teachers are part of what we call Education, or at least should be part of it. Can you see this in another way? Or is it just me?

(A sidetrack question: If you see 90% of what you in is not what you believe it should be, do you fight against it or just give up?)

Has the way younger students think and learn changed over the past 10 years?

  • 90%  YES
  • 10%  NO
  • 39 Votes

The world has changed, a lot! But the way young people think and learn I’m not sure about that, are you? If so, why are we discussing Vygostky, Dewey, and the other guys who wrote about how people learn LAST CENTURY?

Nowadays, kids want to play, they’ve always wanted that and they’ve always learnt that way too, we don’t know exactly how, but they do, right? Teens want to listen to music and flirt, get some kicks and get some chicks, and all that, how different is that from twenty years ago? It was Nirvana and now is Gaga, that’s a downgrade for sure 🙂 but they’re still teens and they still have their fears and aspirations and they still don’t looove their teachers. We don’t even have a widely acceptable ‘way’ to describe thinking and learning, how can we say it changed? We had books, now we have computers, iphones, the media changed, what we use in order to learn changed. The people, well changed a bit, but they’re still people.

Can we provide course books or digital course books which are unique to the interests and learning styles of each student?

  • 56% YES
  • 44% NO
  • 40 Votes

A bit more balanced this time, but still… only if we write a ‘unique’ coursebook for every and each one of our students will we be able to do what the question suggests. It doesn’t matter if it’s digital or what, the name says course-book, not my-self-designed-interest-book.

Can every person in a society have a job that is creative and fulfilling?

  • 33% YES
  • 68% NO
  • 40 Votes

Good! The answer is: no! Unless we decide to get rid of McDonald’s and Star Bucks, and also stop hiring people to clean and wash our stuff, and manufacture our shoes, and all the stuff you don’t want to do because you have a bachelor degree or else. Okay, the question is whether they can, then yes, they can. But they won’t.

(The question could be improved if instead of job it was life, a different ball game)

Are you producing lessons that enable students to be creative?

  • 88% YES
  • 12% NO
  • 41 Votes

I think very few teachers will admit they aren’t, but look at it this way, if we know, we don’t want to admit it but we know, that it’s impossible for every person to have a creative job just because there aren’t creative jobs for everyone, so if we know that and we are increasingly producing lessons to stimulate the creative mind (let’s say because we think this is a preparation for the adult life and that it inevitably consists of some kind of job, so they need to be creative), aren’t we forgetting about the other half of the population who won’t have, or don’t want, creative jobs and in fact need other things in order to succeed?

Don’t we take for granted that it’s good to be creative, when in fact, this is not what the world out there demands from half its population?


What’s the point of this post?

It is to encourage skepticism, it is to encourage a look on the other side, it is to encourage doubtfulness of objective surveys, polls and statistics.

It is against conformity, dubious cause-effect relationships and superficial unanalyzed general truths.

It is to question and to provoke you.


4 thoughts on “Conform to conformity or people will say you’re a punk!

  1. Richard says:

    Good points. Lies, lies and damned statistics etc.

    However, regarding the the way younger students think and learn, and conveniently ignoring the 10 years in favour of, say 30, another entirely arbitrary number, I think it depends on whether you view ‘way’ as the neurological processes, or the method. If it’s the method, then technology, for instance, is available to help learners and teachers that wasn’t there before, in which case the ‘way’, as in ‘method’, has changed, or is changing.

    I doubt, however, that evolution has moved fast enough to provide a different neurological platform for those born in this new millenium, thought I think Prensky might try to convince people otherwise – speaking of ‘superficial unanalyzed general truths’.

    • Good point!
      I hadn’t thought of ‘way’ as the method. And this is another case against this kind of data collection, answering a, b or c won’t tell you how respondends understood the question, which makes it quite unreliable, not to say useless.

  2. David Warr says:

    It makes all the difference if, as yo say, you change “job” to “life”. McDonalds jobs and the rest. Have you seen any of those Undercover Boss programmes? People in lowly positions, given the chance to shine, do so, and the company is much better off for it. I know that most, if not all jobs have a repatitive nature about them, but knowing you do make a difference does make a difference to your attitude. Anyway, still my favourite bit of this post was the little rap in the middle 😉 Kicks and chicks. Ahh, memories…

  3. […] lined up for us all, after asking us to rejoice at their beauty last week. His latest post about Conforming to Conformity fits with with this theme, and has a little rap to […]

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