The Beauty of an Even Playing Field
As Ty Kiisel points out here, humans tend to judge and get judged, consciously, or unconsciously, by our appearances. He references this article by Aaron Gouveia, citing research that our appearances affect
many things at work, e.g. tall people get paid more, fat people [his words, not mine] get paid less, women who wear makeup get paid more, etc. Brian Tracy, a "personal success authority" says:
"Your clothes are responsible for 95 percent of the first impression that you make on someone because, in most instances, your clothes cover 95 percent of your body. Your grooming, your hair style and the other ways you can determine your appearance from the neck up also exert an inordinate influence on the way that you are perceived, on your ethos with someone. "
[I realize these may be U.S.-centric examples, but I don't want to speak of things I don't know anything about. So please add your own cultural examples in the comments if you can.]
What is my point?
Connected Courses such as #rhizo15, #CLMOOC, #connectedcourses, etc. create a playing field more even than most f2f learning situations. We interact with people primarily for the value of their work, their humor, their interactions, their willingness to share and be vulnerable, their willingness to connect reciprocally. It has little, very little, to do with anything superficial, such as what they look like or wear.
I would like to think that happens in most real life learning environments, too. But I am not that naive.
Fortunately for most of us, in connected courses, we can work and interact with each other in our pajamas, our farm duds, with babyfood smeared on our hijab, or muddy dog prints on our jeans, no make-up, hair uncombed.
If you met me in person, you would know that I have nine tattoos, short grey hair, and dress pretty androgynously.
This week Kevin made a cartoon version of me, which I loved. He got the hair pretty close, but I never wear skirts/dresses, and let's just say sweaters don't look that good on me, and we'll leave it at that (LOL).
I have on many occasions been judged for my tattoos, my lack of feminine attire, etc. But those things are not a factor in courses like Rhizo and CLMOOC. We find out about each other in dribs and drabs, already having had valuable interactions that are far more important than finding out someone has tattoos.
I don't know if you are heavy or skinny, masculine or feminine, sloppy or neat, disheveled or tall or short. It points out how unimportant our actual appearances are to our interactions.
Many of us have, at different times, made cartoon versions of each other.
It is rather freeing, really, to be judged by the quality of one's work and the reciprocity of one's interactions. And not by the weight of any other scale.
As you find out more about what someone in an online course looks like, does it change how you think of them? Does it change how you interact with them?
[Maha and I have chatted about how other things aside from physical appearance affect our perceptions of each other, but she has written about that far more eloquently than I could.]
Now I am going to go put on pants.