[UnpackED - 0] New short blogpost series summarising arguments of my book, "UnpackED"
For long, many people asked me to give one line summary of my book, to write a 750 word article, to give list of "actionable policy recommendations". But, I refused to simplistically reduce my arguments to fit into space, for the sake of convenience. It was mainly due to three reasons.
One, the underlying theme of the arguments in my book is that the issue with education policy is with the mental models - the way we frame questions and the way we think about solutions. In order to internalise the problems with "ways of thinking", one needs to follow the train of thought and disentangle one's own mental cobwebs. This isn't going to happen with one sentence or few paragraphs.
Two, I used to reply - "Look. The origin of my book is an article. I once wrote an article. Some people called these as superficial arguments. I wrote the book building up the argument from first principles to explain all the details. Now, you are again asking me to get back to article."
Three, I also had a thought at the back of my mind that it's not worth persuading anyone who refuses to make the effort to read because they are not interested enough in education policy, and hence may not matter much.
The reality slowly sinked in. There were a couple of epiphanies in the due course of time.
One, not everyone who seems interested is not actually interested in the way I thought. They have just few concerns about the education because they passed through the system but they aren't interested enough to make effort to dissect their thoughts.
Two, to build a broader discourse, the "concerned" but not "interested enough" people is the first layer to cut through. They act as a significant lever.
Three, I realised that I can convince "concerned but not interested" people if I get their 2 hours of dedicated attention. I did a couple of 2 hour talks, where this was highly applauded. But the point is that no one's going to give me 2 hours of their time to listen to my arguments. Dissemination is severely throttled due to this.
Four, even those who are concerned and interested enough in education policy are too fixated on their world views of education. Essentially, everyone has an agenda of what's to be done and busy promoting it. So, they wouldn't necessarily read something new unless it comes from a famous person. Since I am not famous, there's no way of getting the argument through this section of people.
Five, after examining several books, I realised that "few catchy phrases or lines" that a reader can take home after reading the book, is one of the reasons for their popularity. Only these phrases and lines are going to stay alive in the mainstream discourse. My book had few or none of them.
Six, when writing the book, I had no idea who my audiences are going to be. I never thought about it. I just wrote the book because I felt that those arguments are to be made. I felt like writing. It's something similar to this blog. I just write because I feel like writing, without any conscious effort to market it. Since I was writing with this framework, I didn't make a conscious effort to strategise modes of dissemination as per audience. No market segmentation.
Seven, I realised that there is a better way of phrasing the arguments that I made in the book.
Overall, the final point is that one can't escape away from 1 line summaries and 2 minute pitches. They are necessary to cut through all sections of people - concerned but not interested enough and concerned and interested enough.
So, I am attempting to rephrase the arguments of my book in four short blog posts. I am removing all the "important technical stuff" for the sake of convenience and presenting explanation only in layman terms. I am also removing many other additional topics discussed in the book; just sticking to what's "most important". Hopefully, after some time, I can squeeze these into one page note and finally into 1 sentence.
Links of blog posts below.
1. [UnpackED - 1] Why do governments' efforts to reform education not yield outcomes?
2. [UnpackED - 2] Why do governments' do what they do?