Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The authentic voice

Jonathon Ross I have a dirty secret. Well OK, if you search this site, you'll find I have several dirty secrets, but there's a new one I want to impose on you today.

I like Jonathon Ross.

No, let me be more specific than that. I like Jonathon Ross' Saturday morning radio program. His TV show, I can live without. And I don't follow him on Twitter because he doesn't add enough value to my personal network. But I always look forward to Saturday mornings, because on the wadio, Wossy gets it wight. So last Saturday morning when I listened to the opening of his show, I was worried. Something didn't quite click. OMG, I thought, the Daily Mail has finally got to Wossy - he's playing it safe. Fortunately, within a few minutes things were back to normal, and Wossy was sounding like Wossy again rather than the lobotomized DJ stereotype who had opened the show. But the episode got me thinking: what is the authentic voice, and how often do we hear it in education?

Sounding "natural" (whatever that is) while performing the plate spinning act that is presenting a radio show is formidably difficult. Don't think for a moment it's just a matter of relaxing and talking mindlessly - sounding authentic is much harder than that. Have you ever tried to make a podcast or dubbing a video? Difficult, isn't it? I'm rubbish at it - my voice is just as boring as students used to tell me it was in lectures (before I gave them up). So I try and trick people by hoping what I have to say is a lot more interesting than the sound of me saying it.

I've had several conversations in the last week about how students pick up on faint signals. But on Saturday Wossy got me thinking. How often do students hear a truly a authentic voice in education? Everything we do is so constrained for one reason or another. There are so many barriers to communication that we lose the state of "flow" that is necessary to communicate the true richness and complexity of the ideas we would like to get across. If they heard more of the authentic voice in education, how much would students benefit?