Monday, August 25

The 7, no 12, maybe 15 things about something

Have you noticed how most titles are the 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 or whatever number of things that will change your life in some way? It's not just in education, but in just about every area of writing.

"Top 10 Superior Tech Products You'll Never Go Back From" (awkard that, with dangling preposition)

Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools

"Six Things I Learned from Teaching That I Still Use in Everyday Life"

"50 Things Cortana Can Do Right Now (Compared to Siri and Google Now)"

"7 Things We Learned from David Rees"

"10 Disney Sidekicks That Got the Axe"

"Jack Kerouac's 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Writing Modern Prose"

"38 Ideas to Use Google Drive in Class"

I don't quite understand the trend. Well, I kind of understand the trend because the numbers in a headline or title are eye-catching. But they also offer a false hope that if I can only master the 10 writing tips, I'll be the Best Writer Ever. Or if I can only do the five things the most successful people do every morning I'll be successful, too.

Over the course of a couple of weeks I kept approximate track of the number of iPad applications any teacher had to have for the classroom. It was something like 157. Based on titles of the articles, I could surmise I could be the worst teacher ever if I didn't have every one of those iPad applications. And, of course, having the applications and knowing what to do with them are two potentially tragically different things.

This reductionist approach is somewhat alarming to me. It seems we're trying to reduce essentially everything to a magic number. The top 100 of influential people, restaurants, songs in a given year, things I have to do (have to do?!?!? or what?) before I die.

I can't help but think of Stephen Covey and his 7, no 8, habits of highly effective people. Or Howard Gardner's 8, no 9, multiple intelligences.

That's the problem with lists of a definitive number of things that solves, manage, explains, develops, defines, transforms, or in some other way will The Difference.

There's always (at least) one more thing that matters.

No comments: