Giving Experts the Boot

Greg Lynch

It’s story time again. This short one is not about education, although there might be a lesson in there somewhere. It involves a drive-in movie theatre and a car boot.

The drive-in was a wonderful part of my childhood. The movies typically sucked, and the tinny sound from the hook-on speaker definitely sucked, but it was always great fun. And of course it is now a was. The Northland Drive-in, where I must have seen at least a hundred movies, is long gone. They’re pretty much all gone, although Dromana, which also holds fond memories, is still around. In Melbourne, only Coburg still exists.

Last year, while I was busy getting hip, my family discovered the Coburg drive-in. They had a great time, but there were differences from the olden days, and there was a problem. The first difference was that the majority of cars, including my family’s, faced backwards, away from the screen, with chairs and kids and food and drinks around or in the open boot. The second difference was that the movie’s audio was received through the car’s FM radio. All good, and better, although it necessitated having the car radio on and the car lights off. Which was the problem.

It shouldn’t have been a problem, but it was. That was because there was no obvious way for Ying to convince our stupid VW that she really didn’t want the boot light on. The nearby viewers were distracted and justifiably annoyed by the light, and after trying numerous combinations of car settings, Ying gave up and, dutiful mother that she is, watched the entire movie with one hand covering the stupid boot light.

The kids had a blast at the drive-in and wanted to go back. Of course it was given to me, the nominal Man of the House, to solve The Problem of the Boot Light. With zero skills in either cars or electrics, I got nowhere fast. There was no obvious switch, nor any easy way to get to the bulb to simply take it out. The manual for the stupid VW was no help. So, off to the internet it was.

We weren’t the first to have encountered this issue, and there was no shortage of internet discussion. People wrote about hooking up an electrical switch, and overriding “lights out” messages, and all manner of technical ingenuity that I would never contemplate trying to implement, and which seemed way too difficult for dealing with one stubborn boot light. And then I found the answer. Some guy figured out the simple way to trick the stupid VW into thinking that its boot was closed:

I click the latch 1 click, and that turns the light off.

Problem easily, humorously solved, and a number of drive-in movies subsequently enjoyed.

14 Replies to “Giving Experts the Boot”

  1. Of course there are lessons here, Marty. How could there not be with the title you chose! It would take an ‘expert’ not to see it. There are many lessons. I’ll name two – the low hanging fruit:

    1) Give hornswoggling ‘experts’ the boot from education. Their advice solves nothing and just creates new problems.

    2) The real problems in education are obvious once you back-track from the symptoms. You don’t need hornswoggling ‘experts’ to solve these problems, you just need someone with good old fashioned horse sense.

    PS – I really miss the long gone Drive-In in Burwood. I still remember the first movie I saw there (The Omega Man).

    1. Hmm. I’m not sure I wanted to give experts the boot when I got my hip replacement done. How do you extrapolate from this instance?

      1. Some experts are more expert (or less hornswoggling) than others. I’m talking about giving the boot to the so-called and self-titled “mathematics education” ‘experts’.

        But you imply an interesting question: How do you know which experts to trust? In the case of your hip replacement, would you want the ‘expert’ that had got it wrong again and again in the past but assured you that this time they’ll get it right? Or would you want the expert that has demonstrated in the past that they can get it right? (10% strike rate or 90% strike rate?)*.

        How would a politician know which experts to trust and which ‘experts’ to totally ignore?

        *Yes, I know that other data is needed for my example. The 10% surgeon might only accept the most difficult and hopeless cases, the 90% surgeon might only accept the simplest cases etc. But I’m sure my point is clear. The track record of these so-called education ‘experts’ is pathetic and it’s incomprehensible why they keep getting listened to.

  2. I’m currently sifting through some of the ‘Maths’ teaching modules in my M.Teach(Sec) course and accidentally stepped in this:
    “Please note that VCE teaching should be likened to F-10 Curriculum and should not be purely text book orientated. This is the philosophy throughout this course”.
    The push (or “the vibe”, to quote Denis Denuto from ‘The Castle’) is heavily towards inquiry-based learning – including VCE.

      1. Hi Marty. Not sure where else to put it (nor do I have time to go searching) but ‘Giving Experts the Boot’ seemed reasonable. Yes, ugh!
        And another one for contemplation:
        “You might like to look at the work of Jo Boaler and positive mindset material. But be aware that Hattie indicates that there is little in the way of data to support Jo’s approaches.”
        Fascinating stuff.

  3. I think this is a story without an easy lesson. At first I thought the moral was that you should cut through overly complicated crap and simplify it for the benefit of all.

    But then I worried because other times I see people saying they are simplifying things in their teaching/curriculum design. And they are ignorant of the fact that some of the stuff they are cutting out is actually important, or by simplifying they are actually saying something wrong. Then simplification may cause more problems later on.

    I don’t know how one person, who is trying to simplify, can tell which of these two things they are doing. It is easier to tell in your example, because you can see the lights go off.

    1. Nice reverse metaphor!

      And I agree. I didn’t write the story with the belief it had a clear message. I guess if there is a message, it’s that thinking hard is not the same as being thoughtful. But of course not thinking at all is also not the same as being thoughtful.

      Some stuff is hard, and most is not.

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