Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Nail House

Once upon a time there lived a very arrogant King. He ruled his land with an iron hand and ensured that all his people did as they were told. He was nothing like his now-dead father who had laid out laws and rules that protected his people.

One day the new King decided he wanted to build the grandest palace the world had ever seen and he wanted to build it on top of the city - the city where all his people lived. So he served notice that all of the people in the city were to be evicted with no compensation so that the new palace could be built on that land.

Everyone in the city feared the new King and so they reluctantly did as they were told and moved out leaving their homes behind. Everyone that is, except for a little tailor and his family.

Jarvik knew that the old king had decreed that people had the right to their homes and they could not be evicted if they stood their ground - why had the rest of the people not realised this? Jarvik thought they must have had the wool pulled over their eyes.

So he told the King, "Your father passed a law protecting me and my home and I am NOT MOVING!"

Angrily, the King consulted his legal advisors and they had to confirm that Jarvik was right. All around him all the other homes were demolished until only Jarvik's home stood there alone - like a nail that would not be beaten down - The Nail House.

"Go ask what he wants," ordered the king to his advisors. "Tell him he can have anything. I just want him OUT!"

The advisors returned saying, "He wants apartments in your new palace for him and his family on exactly the spot his home is on now."

The King could see his grand plans for his palace disappearing before his eyes, so he decided to give in to Jarvik's wishes. So Jarvik and his family got their new home.

However, word soon spread amongst all the other people who had moved out of the city and they too came to the King and said, "We want homes in your new palace exactly where they were before." And the King had to relent.

In the end the King finished his grand scheme around him, but instead of building a palace for himself, he had ended up building a new city for his people.

And all because of 'The Nail House'.This story is inspired by the tale of Ms Wu (see photograph) and her dogged determination to stick to her guns and refuse to bow to pressure for authority.

In many ways her struggle and ultimate triumph seemingly against all the odds, is a metaphor for the struggle that schools in the UK currently face in their choice of VLE. They can choose to go for the ten 'Becta accredited' VLE providers, or they can be 'digital mavericks' and choose 'The Nail House' option - the Open Source alternative that is Moodle.

I have spoken at several conferences and I know very well that much as the powers that be would like it not to be the case, Moodle is a Nail House that will not go away.

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