Survey Results on “school” and “learning”

First day of class …

I took an informal “raise your hand” survey of my 200 Intro students.

Me: “How many of you do not actually *like* school?”
… just over half(!) raise their hands

Me: “How many of you do not like learning?”
… no hands

Wesch

Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

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8 Responses

  1. Prof Wesch,
    It is not a typical human behavior to not want to learn. I think it is human nature to be curious and to continue to learn. However, the way we learn is in question.

    As a professional marketer, it is my job to reach an audience and make a lasting impression regarding a product or service. In that same respect, as an educator you are trying to reach your audience and make a lasting impression regarding a topic.

    Marketing is changing, as is education, in that we have (because of technology) gained the ability to interact on new levels to reach and make an impression on our audience.

    Consumers and students don’t want to be sold or taught, they want to purchase and learn for their own benefit.

    Empower, encourage, engage…

    Thanks

  2. Stephen Pitts,

    I think there are a few problems with your claims, mainly the claim that “we [now] have (because of technology) gained the ability to interact on new levels to reach and make an impression on our audience.”

    What this (especially the use of “levels”) implies is — not that technology changes our abilities to communicate — but rather that it actually (and necessarily) improves our ability to communicate. It implies that without these advances in technology, that education was always doomed, that education couldn’t be authentic and worthwhile.

    I think that it’s not technologies (whether paper and pen, blackboard, computers, etc.) that determine how we communicate and how authentic education is, but rather how we use said technologies.

    I also consider your correlation between marketing and education problematic. I agree that both are rhetorical — the act of trying to persuade others. Perhaps we could even agree that both want to change others — change the consumer to purchase or change the way that students think.

    However, what is the goal of this rhetoric? For marketers, it’s not to empower, but to make money: to profit financially. For educators, while I can’t make the claim that it’s completely altruistic, the goal of the rhetoric is usually to “empower” students. (I use scare quotes because i question the ability to empower another; perhaps to help them empower themselves would be more accurate.) Marketing’s goal isn’t to empower consumers. In fact, it’s goal is usually to dupe consumers.

  3. Michael,
    Thank you for your remarks regarding my comments. I respond not in defense of my argument, rather for additional clarity.

    Technology has given us the ability to interact more effectively on different levels, therefore reinforcing the existing and new levels to interact. Technology is an enabler in these matters.

    As far as my correlation to marketing and education, I may not have been clear in my initial remarks. The idea that marketing and sales are interchangeable is not how I define my professional role in society.

    My profession is not to sell, that is for the functions of the product or service, it is inform the consumer (potential customer) to benefits of the products and/or services that are available.

    It is not my job, as a marketer, to “dupe” the consumer, just as it is not the goal of most educators to provide inaccurate information to their students. Neither lead to a positive relationship and will ultimately fail.

    I will concede that not all marketers subscribe to these principles, however, I am here to build a relationship with my company and the consumer, not merely to sell a particular product or service.

  4. Prof Wesch says:

    This is an interesting discussion, one that in many ways sounds like the conversation I have been having with myself inside my head as I have been wrestling with the possibility of using my digital ethnography insights to consult with marketers. Originally I found the idea repulsive. Now I embrace it as a wonderful possibility for helping to heal the broken corporate/consumer relationship. There is a long history of companies “duping” consumers. As consumers have become wiser, so have the marketers. The “duping” has become ever more insidious and covert with lifestyle branding and embedded advertising. But in the midst of this are more and more voices within marketing like those of Stephen, seeking to build a better, transparent, honest, and open relationship with consumers – and it seems that social media holds a remarkable potential to enable this kind of relationship. There are many pitfalls along the way – new possibilities for “duping” etc. – but that is precisely why people like me *should* use our insights to help marketers. As we all know, advertising actually produces a great deal of our cultural values, ideas, and ideals. A better culture of advertising will mean a better culture for everybody.

  1. January 18, 2008

    [...] The first blog up on my tool bar that I check everyday is Scott Mcleod’s Dangerously Irrelevant. In his last post he referenced an entry from Michael Wesh’s blog in which he asked his students two questions. I took an informal “raise your hand” survey of my 200 Intro students. [...]

  2. January 18, 2008

    [...] Ask your students these two great questions posed by Michael Welsh that were brought to my attention by Scott McLeod… [...]

  3. January 19, 2008

    [...] Case in point, yesterday on a blog by Professor Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University made a very simple interaction with his students that many of us might remember during our time in college, regarding school and learning, and posted it on the Digital Ethnography blog: First day of class … [...]

  4. June 8, 2008

    [...] Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University made a very simple interaction with his students that many of us might remember during our time in college, regarding school and learning, and [...]

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