I didn’t create the parable below. I just, er, re-tailored it, after spending the entire first quarter of the school year trying to design learning with a bad tool. That tool is called Blackboard. (Details for the gore-lovers below the fold.)
As Jesus says, “Those with ears, let them hear.” And let them choose a good tool — Moodle, for example, is infinitely better — instead.
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The Tailor and the Suit
A man wanted a suit and, being status-conscious and able to afford the best, he chose the tailor used by all his well-to-do and status-conscious compeers. This tailor had the best name in the land.
The man visited the tailor and selected the finest fabric, the most fashionable cut and design. Sparing no cost in his quest for the finest, he even sprang extra for golden buttons and silver zippers. The tailor measured him, promised him a life transformed and worlds new-conquered in his new suit — and, before the man left, pocketed a small fortune as deposit.
The following week, the man returned to the tailor to pick up his suit. He tried it on in the shop, but when he stood before the looking-glass, he was shocked to see that the left sleeve was six inches too long, while the right was six too short. The same was true of the pants, but in reverse.
“There must be some mistake,” the man said. “This suit is horrible. I paid a lot of money to get the best, and you’ve given me worse than the worst.”
“Dear sir,” the tailor clucked, “you know good and well my suits have the best reputation in the land. There’s nothing wrong with the suit.”
“‘Nothing wrong’? ” cried the customer. “When my hairy right forearm and hairy left calf is exposed for all the world to see, while my left hand and right foot are swallowed up inside the sleeves? Nothing wrong?!”
Calm as a lily, the tailor repeated, “My dear man, I’m telling you: There’s nothing wrong with the suit. The problem is you: It’s the way you’re standing in it.”
The tailor stood behind the customer, and in one deft motion wrenched the man’s right shoulder down and left shoulder up, both six inches. He did the opposite with the customer’s hip.
Standing that way, the customer felt for all the world like a scarecrow. But looking in the mirror, he had to admit: the suit suddenly looked very, very good.
“See?” the tailor said. “Perfect. I’m not giving you your money back. It’s not the suit, it’s you.”
The customer objected that standing in that posture in the suit would be ridiculously uncomfortable, and walking in it doubly so. He repeated his demand for a refund. The tailor would hear none of it.
“Don’t blame the suit. It’s your posture. I’ve got a million other Very Important People who pay good money for my work. Ah!,” he said, pointing out the shop window — “There goes a group of them down the street right now.”
The customer looked at the group and recognized them all. They were, indeed, Very Important People, and sure enough, they all walked with one shoulder six inches higher and one hip six inches lower. And while they looked odd with that gait, the suit did look expensive.
The customer thought to himself, “These are Very Important People. They wouldn’t buy a bad suit. Maybe it is me.”
So the customer asked the tailor to show him how to walk in the suit.
“Ah!,” the tailor said. “How to walk! That’s special training and will cost you more. All my other clients pay for these walking lessons after buying my suits.”
The customer found the price very expensive, but didn’t want to appear any Less Important than the men he saw outside lurching importantly down the street. So he paid the fee.
After several weeks of training sessions costing several thousand more gold coins, the customer succeeded in learning how to walk in such a way that made the suit look good. The tailor gave him a signed, gold-plated certificate: “Successfully completed 5-week workshop: How to Walk in Suit.”
True, he walked like one of the misbegotten, and suffered life-long damage to his skeleton, and never enjoyed working in that suit like he had in so many other suits he used to wear to work — but the suit looked good. And when you pay that much money for a suit, that’s the only thing that matters.
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