Vanilla Ideas: Angry at Pundits?

Ok, I'm not sure how I stumbled onto "He's the Weird Teacher" blog entry on the subject of, The Threat of Vanilla, but I had a laugh reading the blog entry. It's quite a rant about know-it-all experts who appear to not have listened to Weird Teacher's perspective. Having experienced this a bit myself (who hasn't in their life?), I was inspired to write a different version of his blog entry. I certainly used it for inspiration and I'm not sure how true I was to all the ideas...I tried to capture the main ones and probably failed. But it was a fun exercise given that, , I haven't written anything for awhile.
Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with my work, edtech heresies or stuff like that. It's me having fun writing another version of someone else's work. I like it because it's a bit snarky and tries to go a different way with the anger flowing through Weird Teacher's blog entry. I had a lot of fun doing it. If anything rings true as you read it, that's about and on YOU, not me.
Make sure to read  The Threat of Vanilla first then let me know in the comments if I came close at all.
Image Source: MaxPixel

Vanilla Ideas

What are you grateful for? I bet it's not temper tantrums and education pundits. The horn of plenty this November gives us much to be angry about. Doesn't outright ignoring the truth about education make you angry? It does me. I've tried to summarize the main points below. Let me know what your top five are when it comes to education pundits.

Definition - Education pundit: A digital, well-respected snake-oil salesperson, peddling fake answers to imagined ills.

Here are my top five, "Doesn't this make you angry?"

1) Escape from School Prison

Seen that kindergartner make a run for it on opening day?
Maybe he had the right idea. Pundits always know what someone else needs to do. Doesn't this make you angry? Teachers, or worse, campus and district administrators adopt fake solutions to imagined problems. What does that mean? It means that the pundit only APPEARS to be advocating change. Instead, it is like the prison escape coordinator on the warden's payroll.

The Prison Escape Coordinator rounds up the foolish, the desperate, the pollyanna. Then, the PEC offers them a way out, if they'll only sacrifice and work even harder. Of course, they do, they get to the end of the escape tunnel. There, they discover the Warden with another few years added to their sentence. Nothing changes.

The status quo is maintained, the revolution appears to have happened but nothing changes.

2) Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It's Off to Work We Go

Work with kids? Then you must love them. And, if you love them, you'll do anything for them. You'll sacrifice your own financial wellbeing, emotional and physical health. You'll put in the long hours. You'll wade through the paperwork. You'll put up 24/7 text messages from parents. Why? You love the kids and that means you'll do ANYTHING for them. You'll feed them from your own pocket, buy them treats, fill the treasure box with your own treasures. No matter you fall dead, suffer ailments no pundit seems to suffer (all that walking on stage, I guess).

In the meantime, the pundits say to those who don't surrender like Jim Jones' cultists, "You aren't worthy." They may say, "Which of the seven dwarves are you from the story? Grumpy, Sad, or Dopey?"

We teach kids. We do what we must for them to be successful, not one thing more. And, because they learn to read/write/think, it will transform their lives. We don't need the guilt. We need the support, the training, a professional's salary.

3) You're Sooo Vain, You Think This is About You

Listen to an education pundit, you'll soon be singing the song. When they look away from the mirror, they'll tell you how critical their branding is, how they are working on their book (or about their book if published). They'll want you to tweet, retweet, instagram, facebook like their book group.

"I don't want to answer you or talk to you, I'm too busy making a difference in the lives of my Twitter followers who are buying my book, hiring me to present." Don't bug me, man, can't you see you're wrong and I'm right? Why don't you learn to argue with me via DM so no one knows you don't dig my brand? What's your angle?

It's a game of survivor. The more followers you get, the better. But your students don't care about pundits. They need to learn using scientific, research-based strategies. Your talk is time-wasting. My actions are what make the difference.

4) The Sound of Silence

When you're a pundit, it's about getting others to parrot your ideas. The more who repeat you, retweet you, the better your chances of getting hired and books bought. The problem is, there are too many pundits, not enough parrots. Maybe, we need to take a moment to be quiet, listen to our own ideas, ask ourselves what really works. Instead of parroting other's ideas, let's set them up with a list of our specific problems and get them to solve them. If they do so, then we pay.

Let's deal with the facts. How can we use 100 apps in 60 minutes when we don't have the tech? How can we do it when we have to spend 59 minutes using effective instructional strategies that don't require tech at all?

5) Research This, You Education Funding Sucker!

The money, the local, state, compensatory ed funding, it's all there for the taking. Let's hire this expert for $3,000, this one for $10K, and create powerful experiences. Experiences that ignore the research, that fail to set in place the infrastructure for enduring change.

Vanilla Surprise

Want to make big changes? Get down in the trenches, start simple with research-based strategies, and do the work. Did you know that vanilla is used as the base for most ice creams?

Before we start adding all the different flavors pundits demand, let's get our vanilla straight. It's time to celebrate what works, dump the rest...including the pundits.

Image Sources

  • Cornucopia. Available online at
  • Running student. Available online at
  • Grumpy decal. Available online at
  • Survivor. Available online at
  • Trenches. Available online at

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Popular posts from this blog

Rough and Ready - #iPad Created Narrated Slideshow

Old Made New: Back to Bunsen Labs Linux (Updated)

The Inside Scoop: EdTech 2020 Virtual Conference #edtech #zoom