You probably need to go and read it so you can couch my following grizzle in some kind of context. So off you go. I’ll go and make myself a cup of preferred beverage while you read it…
… ok then.
Now, this article has some merit. Yes, I understand that the technological steamroller moves on, squishing untenable technologies and paving the way for their replacements. It’s adapt or die. I get that.
I understand that he’s making criticisms of Word that are in a similar vein to those I may or may not have made about Publisher.
But I think the author uses a tone that I seem to be encountering more and more online, particularly in the realm of education.
And admittedly, it’s probably a tone that I sometimes adopt in moments of frustration. But as I become increasingly aware of how horrible it sounds, I’m going to be trying really hard to avoid using it in the future.
It’s the tone that I like to commonly refer to as the “I’m a cutting edge tech hipster* guru and you’re so passé for using today’s technology” tone.
It’s the commentary you hear or read which infers “I’m beyond this” or “I already know everything there is to know about this”.
It’s in those statements that feel like they have a bored eye-roll attached, or which indicate their author/speaker thinks that something is only relevant and worthwhile if it’s new and uncharted territory.
And when you find yourself amidst a gaggle of Cutting Edge Tech Hipster Gurus, it’s almost like you’re watching a weird, inverse version of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen skit.
Do you know the tone I’m talking about? Or am I delusional?
I admit that I’ve been in situations where I’ve made eye-rolling, sarcastic comments during PL sessions where I’m being given a beginner’s session on how to use a [insert piece of software/webtool] that I’m already proficient in. And yes, I’m as guilty as charged when it comes to taking a stab at particular pieces of software that give me the irrits (*cough*Publisher*cough* ). Hell, I’ve even referred to anti-tech teachers as Luddites (though I reckon if they aren’t making any effort at all to come to the party, then they probably deserve this label. In fact, I reckon some of them would wear it proudly! ). And I will admit that sometimes my tone becomes condescending. But every single time, these comments are borne of frustration, and the elitist cow element that makes me sound like a twonk is merely a by-product
But I dunno…there seem to be people who are aiming for the elitist cow thing, straight off the bat. It feels a bit like the author of Death to Microsoft Word might be aiming for that. Particularly with his addition of the heart-warming anecdote at the bottom of the page which essentially says: “Look at what a clever little digital native my four year old Einstein is. My spawn can synthesise knowledge and use MS Word to record it, so obviously I have superior sperm and parenting skills. But by the way, it means if you’re using MS Word you’re the mental equivalent of a four year old”. But I digress…
Yes, we need to be critical evaluators. Yes, we need to be constantly reflecting on the way things are done and how they can be improved. Yes, we need to keep up with the new stuff and sort the wheat from the chaff. And yes, we need the trailblazers who’ll happily take the leap of faith off the pedagogical cliff. But I think that we need to do it in a way that acknowledges that change takes time, and respect that people are at different stages of their own personal learning journeys. Creating cliquey little groups of Cutting Edge Tech Hipster Gurus who sneer at the Microsoft Word users isn’t going to work as we move into a society of networks. We’re going to need to hand-hold, and respect that we can all complement each other’s knowledge and skill-sets in one way or another.
And if I ever start sounding like I’m suffering from Cutting Edge Tech Hipster Guru Syndrome, please slap me about with a wet fish
* I use the term hipster to reflect ethos, not some superficial horn-rimmed-spectacles-and-corduroy version of the word
**I apologise to anyone I’ve ever offended with one of my MS Publisher rants.