Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why 'Dinosuars' isn't helpful.

The more I reflect on the recent #eltchat called introducing CPD to dinosaurs, (see the excellent summary by Andrea Wade, the more I am convinced that the use of the word dinosaur is misguided. 
I believe labels are not helpful and ones with negative connotations are even worse. I find that in our minds labels are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you call someone a dinosaur, you will only notice the behaviour that reaffirms your views and ignore the behaviour that doesn’t.  (Read Richard Wiseman’s book Paranormality for an excellent insight into how we only notice what we want to.) So stop labelling them.  Look for, and build on small things that show there is some CPD going on, rather than noticing all the larger signs that suggest there isn’t.  

by the way if you enjoyed these 140 words why not visit my other blog


  1. I think this message is very strongly emphasized in our summary, Gareth.

    But agree that as moderators we should have edited the topic, though will direct you against your friend about that :-D

    Wording not my choice either - though had fun drawing the beastie :-D


  2. Thanks for your comment Marisa, this wasn't a criticism of a very enjoyable #eltchat.It was more a comment on using labels in general. The point I make about noticing evidence for our pre-held beliefs coud be applied to a range of things and is one thing I have reflected on a lot recently both as a teacher and a teacher trainer.

  3. Hi Gareth. The description came from me, and is in fact a gentle dig at my colleagues who have no intention of examining any new-fangled ideas, as they have been 'doing well up till now'.

  4. Thanks for the Comment SueAnnan, I appreciate there is no malice in the term, but as I said in my reply to Marisa, as soon as terms are applied to people we tend to notice things to back up our those terms.
    The real point I am making is not about the ELT chat but about the use of labels.
    I had this conversation recently with people when they wanted me to use the terms technophile and technophobe. If people pigeonholes others as one or the other then it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking things won't work because of our expectations and not the reality. Oh they are technophobes, this Voicethread activity won't work with them.