, ,

[How demonstrations trump explanations]

A crowded place is a pick-pocket’s paradise. How do you get people to take better care of their belongings? Well, the obvious thing to do is to put up a sign: ‘Beware: Pickpockets Operate in this Area’. What happens when you see this of course is that you automatically tap your pocket to make sure your wallet is still there – which sends just the right message to any pickpocket who may be around! 😊

What to do? The Ogilvy team came up with a brilliant idea: why not employ former thieves and magicians to actually put things inside people’s pockets? And what they put in was a leaflet with a message saying that they too could have their stuff stolen and directing them to a site where they could get more info about what they could do. The results: for every 100 leaflets dropped, 93 people visited the site. Amazing! (Groom & Vellacott ‘Ripple’ – p. 38) Watch this clip:

So what can we, as teachers, learn from this? Well, I have often noticed for instance that when I give my students tips on how to write essays, their eyes glaze over. Sure, they can repeat back the information (‘Yes, yes, we know all this’), but I can tell it has not actually registered. So what I sometimes do, is I get them to read an essay telling them how great it is, and of course they agree. Then I start taking it to pieces by pointing out all kinds of structural and linguistic mistakes which they have failed to notice…  Now the message really sinks in! 😊

But the worst offenders are of course colleagues. I often encounter this attitude at PD events. ‘We are qualified, we are experienced – we know all this stuff’. So what I do then is I challenge them. I give them a short story which describes a lesson and I get them to see whether they can spot all the little things the teacher did well as well as the moments when he slipped up. And I am going to do the same with you now.

This particular story was shared more than a thousand times when it was posted on the British Council Facebook wall. It contains 14 interesting moments – both good and bad. You read the story, you make your notes and you compare them to the commentary underneath. If you get more than 10, you are really good. Enjoy! 😊

The Moral: A good demo can really drive your message home.