Teaching And The Delia Effect

The influence TV cook Delia Smith has had on Joe Public has been remarkable. Supermarkets love her.

She’d show us all how to rustle up something special, mention a few ingredients or a gadget and wallop, shops would sell out of the stuff.

The first time we experienced Delia’s powers was in the 70s when she heaped praise on a type of lemon zester – this caused a bit of a rush and then there was a national shortage.

Delia only had to speak of something after this and supermarkets geared up for a retail hammering. When she was first seen using cranberries on TV a day later, sales rose by 200%.

The ‘Delia Effect’ has been so powerful that the term entered the Collins English Dictionary in 2001.

In education we sometimes see the Delia Effect when micro-celeb teachers mention a resource or plug a book on someone else’s behalf.

As the ever-growing number of CPD celebs tour the country doing their gigs and shows, they drop into their spiels the odd resource they know teachers will go and buy based on their recommendation.

Teachers are always looking out for the best resources and with limited time available to search for new titles, products and ‘solutions’, they will gravitate to those supposedly in the know and nip onto Twitter to get the low-down.

But the recommendations have to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are often just a personal preference. However, some will hang on every word and still buy whatever is said because this is the power of celebrity.

Delia is a great cook and she has a lot of power when it comes to making recommendations. But celebrity endorsements usually have very grateful retailers paying for the privilege.

Whether teachers should do the same is questionable. Should micro-celebs be pushing particular resources over others? Do publishers align themselves with certain teachers because they know they will be able to sell more with a well-timed plug and Tweet?

A better route to finding out what’s what and what’s rot is via an independent review. Although essentially one person’s view, they are well researched, tried and tested and there is no hidden agenda.

The Delia Effect is alive and well in education and it’s up to you to decide whether your celeb is cooking up interest for the right reasons.

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