I get a lot of mailings (of both the snail and electronic varieties) from for-profit educational companies companies that sell educational education-related materials and workshops; I imagine they get my address from one or more of the many professional organizations of which I am a member. While I normally relegate these brochures and catalogs to the circular file within minutes of receipt, I’ll usually give them at least a cursory glance before doing so. It disheartens me that one of the key selling points for various protocols, products, and workshops I keep seeing over and over again is *EASY!*
Don’t get me wrong; I like convenience as much as the next guy, but I’m drawn to wonder – if *EASY!* is the best selling point you can come up with for your product…
- how valuable could it possibly be?
- what can it do that I, with some degree of effort, couldn’t figure out a way to do that is more meaningful or relevant to my students?
- why does your company have such a low opinion of educators (“it’s so easy, even a teacher can use it!”)?
I’m of the opinion that things worth doing or learning are worth an investment of time and effort – I know, one thing to say and yet another to do in the mandate-driven world of public education – but this just seems indicative of the instant-gratification culture that we often bemoan, most often in reference to our students. Everyone reading this blog has had this conversation with their students and/or their own children.
One good thing that has come of my disgust with *EASY!* is that I’ve become very aware of it in my own language, especially when running workshops for my fellow educators. “Convenient” has its place, and I tend to favor “intuitive” when describing tools like wikis or Google Docs, because while there is definitely an initial learning curve to each of those tools, they are fairly user-friendly and draw upon an assumed level of prior knowledge to facilitate their use. But as I said, if it’s worth learning about for the benefit of our students’ or our own learning, is it not worth putting in some time and effort, or at least some stick-to-it-iveness (look that up in your Funk & Wagnall’s) while you determine the potential pros and cons?
I’m not saying we have to re-invent the wheel every time we make a move in education. If something is beneficial to kids and happens to be easy as well, then great. But doing something simply because it’s *EASY!* is not a good enough criterion when it comes to education. We never accept it from our students; let’s not accept it from ourselves, either.