Friday, 19 December 2008

Little Boxes

For those of you who know me well, you will know that for years I have had a complete abhorrence of putting people, their attributes, their personalities, etc. into little boxes (and have you noticed how often there are just 4 boxes into which one of which we all amazingly fit?).

Now, whilst professionalism at long last seems to be improving in the L&D world (thank goodness, as it's about time - a subject for another blog I think) the act of stereotyping, for that's what it is, still seems to abound.  Every day I come across some statement which goes along the following lines .... "and we need to take into account those who belong to (put in the name of your own favourite box here) because their requirements might be different to those in (and now enter the name of another favourite box here) ...".  What a complete load of old tosh me thinks and I have always thought so, and will continue to do so until someone proves me wrong - but that hasn't happened yet!

My ire was first aroused when I came across a very popular 'Learning Styles' inventory back in the late 1980s.  I simple couldn't believe that people were so gullible as to think for one moment that human beings displayed preferences for learning which neatly fitted into one of four boxes (or none, as some, like yours truly, has shown) using a tool which had no validity (since proved by independent research) or reliability.  But people did think so and, amazingly, they still continue to do so.  "We must take into account their learning styles" is a phrase that I still see and yet no one has told me how I am supposed to do this, irrespective of the means of delivery used in an educational, training or development programme!

Today there is another box system into which we are all supposed to fit depending on our age!!  This 'classification' system is being used to 'tell' others how people will react to using Web 2.0 tools and applications.  Again, I keep on coming across totally unproven statements, such as "Generation Y will want and expect ..... because they are ..... " whilst the poor 'old' baby boomer generation (that's supposedly me folks, based on my age) are simply a lost cause when it comes to using Web 2.0.  Well, have I got news for those who perpetrate such nonsense this baby bloomer is blogging - so there!!

Oh please, let's get real and stop trying to categorise people into nice, neat, simple boxes because it just doesn't work, it's an insult to the complexity which is humanity, and it makes our profession look completely idiotic - even though it has earned some people a nice little sum over the years.

OK, rant over, that is until the next time.