Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Monday, February 20, 2006

Clueless Power

by AJ

From Kathy Sierra

Here's to the Clueless Ones

"The ones who see things differently

They're not fond of rules (granted, that's because they don't actually know about the rules)

They have no respect for the status quo (see previous statement)

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

Maybe they have to be clueless.

How else can you take on city hall at the age of 12?
Or break the impossible record?
Or build an internet startup without VC bucks?

While some see them as the clueless ones,
we see a fresh perspective.

Because the people who are clueless enough to think
they can change the world, might be the ones who do.

Do not underestimate us."


"We cant do that". " Weve always done it that way". These are the mantras of realism. As Ms. Sierra notes, prior to Roger Bannister, the experts KNEW the four minute mile could not be broken. After he did it, suddenly a host of other runners did it too. The barrier was psychological only.

The same is true in teaching. Introduce a crazy idea. Go ahead, the crazier the better. See what happens. If your experiences are like mine, youll find that most people will instantly dig in their heels. Visions of horror will dance in their brains. Theyll try to convince you that your school will implode if policy is not followed. Theyll tell you it "cant be done". They work overtime trying to convince you of this. Imaginary boogie-men will be conjured.

The same can be true of students. Many have been brainwashed through years of education. They are convinced it cant be done: English is impossible. Grammar must be perfect. Textbooks are absolutely necessary. Hard boring arduous effort is the only way.

Here's my own clueless story. When I was 12 years old, I inexplicably decided to organize a fundraiser for the Leukemia Society. Without telling my parents, I decided to have a gaming marathon with my friends. I convinced 10 friends to join me. I then called the Leukemia Society and told them of our plan. They sent me an information packet, complete with pledge forms.

On our own, with no help from parents, we canvassed our neighborhoods for donations. People pledged a certain amount of money for each hour we played (we planned on 48 hours straight).

I decided publicity would be a good idea, so I called the local paper... explained what we were doing... and asked them to send a reporter to interview us. They couldnt believe we were doing this on our own, and so they sent a reporter. We got a full page spread.

In the end, we raised over $4000 dollars.

This happened because I was clueless. I had no idea that a 12 year old "couldnt" organize such an event on his own.

Now Im 37. But Ive tried to preserve the "clueless" attitude that served me so well when I was 12.

Most teachers value realism, preparation, and organization. But I believe Ms. Sierra is right. Perhaps the best strength a teacher can have is a healthy dose of cluelessness.

Just imagine, if you didnt know it was "impossible"... what would you do? What are your craziest ideas? What are your impossible ideas? What totally unrealistic innovation would you love to try?

Go ahead and do it.... be clueless.