If you haven't read Kathy's post Marketing should be education, education should be marketing, you should. She says:
If ever there were two groups who ought to trade places--and especially research -- it's teachers and marketers.
Teachers could learn a lot from marketers, They are really good at motivating people, at getting them to do something, Wouldn't we love to be able to do it as well in the classroom? As she says:
Marketers know what turns the brain on (currently, not last week). Teachers need that more than ever today....Marketers know how to motivate someone almost instantly. Teachers could sure use that....
Marketers know how to get--and keep--attention. I know some teachers who'd give a kidney for that research.
And, of course, we teachers have a great deal of knowledge that we can share, too.
Teachers know the importance of honesty and integrity. The good teachers care. ...
Teachers know how to help people think on a deeper level, to get beyond the surface level of understanding. In old-school advertising, only the most superficial attributes were used ("This product will make your neighbors envious!") Clearly, those days are dwindling.
Teachers help people think about thinking. In fear-based (or any emotion-based) marketing campaign (especially politics!), thinking was inhibited. But people can't learn and improve without thinking, so any marketing approach based on helping users get better needs to use emotions to enhance thinking, not prevent it.
Teachers know how to help people through the rough spots...
The real issue, of course, is the money at the disposal of marketers to allow them to know us so well. Education doesn't have that kind of money at its disposal.
But I think we, as teachers, can learn a lot without access to all that money. All we have to do is look around us and see where and how our students spend their time and money. Once we know that (and it isn't that difficult to discover!) we can begin to find ways to incorporate those things in our teaching and in our classrooms. Of course, it isn't quite that simple, but it isn't as hard as we might think it is. It requires that we truly want to reach our students and that we be willing to change the way we do things.
Because when it comes to learning about our students, we can learn more from them than we can from a marketer. And the process of trying to discover what it is that excites them and then trying to figure out how it can be incorporated into the classroom and into our pedagogical framework is a real adventure. The trip is fun in and of itself and the payoff is great.
Listening to and learning from our students is, indeed, learning from the best.