We Interrupt This Post…

Posted on March 19, 2012Filed Under Book List | Leave a Comment

I was going to post about some new books I just finished (there is some down time in Vegas after all), but then I got distracted. You know the old saw about becoming like the kids you teach? Remember, I was already there before I started teaching.

I got distracted by another book that my wife was using as a resource for a workshop she was giving to some ad copy writers. I finally got around to reading it right now as I was going through my Nook to remind myself of the various books I intended to talk about. So now I’m 20-some pages in, and I’m already hooked.

The book is called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath. Yes they’re brothers. After four days in Vegas with all three of mine, I applaud the Heath brothers’ ability to work together.

I already love it, and have confirmed several ideas I had about teaching, and inspired me to change a couple of things, though I’m not quite sure yet how to do that.

Already I know that I have to try harder to avoid what the authors call the “Curse of Knowledge.” (Wait for know-it-all jokes to pass.) Once we know something, it’s hard to imagine that someone else doesn’t get it. They illustrate the idea by recounting a study done in 1990 at Stanford, where one person tapped out a song on a bottle while another tried to guess the tune. Out of 120 songs tapped over the course of the experiment, the guessers were right an average of 3 times. The Curse of Knowledge part comes in when you look at the predictions made by the tappers. They estimated that the guessers would get it right 1/2 the time.

“What? ‘Happy Birthday’? You can’t tell that’s ‘The Star Spangled Banner’? What are you stupid?”

The problem is that the tappers all hear the song in their heads.

Another gem is the one about the 200 most memorable and highly regarded ads, and how they all fit into 6 templates, whereas 200 random, unsuccessful ads couldn’t even be classified into categories; they were all bad in their own ways. I think that might be true about teachers too.

And I’m only on page 25.

See you Wednesday.

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