What Teachers Can Learn From Air New Zealand

If you have flown Air New Zealand recently you will be familiar with their latest air safety video. If you haven’t, watch it here.

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Normally while taxiing to the runway, a bored flight attendant stands in the aisle and mimes a robotic demonstration of seatbelt fastening, and life vest inflation. This scheduled interruption to my reading, is only made tolerable because I can amuse myself looking at the faces of fellow passengers. Very few are really watching. Some, out of a sense of obedience/courtesy, are gazing in the general direction of the hostess – but they are not really watching. They are judging her hair style and guessing her age. Many passengers just ignore her and continue reading.  (I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the similarities between this and some classrooms).

Things are quite different on Air New Zealand flights. There, the cabin crew don’t perform the safety mime. Instead, safety information is delivered as preflight entertainment. The safety video is so creative and well made that passengers really want to watch. It’s far, far more effective than the live demonstration perpetrated on passengers by other airlines. Air New Zealand’s most recent safety video features characters from The Hobbit: elves, orcs, dwarves and wizards. Brilliant! It’s safety demontainment. By putting the safety message into a recording, they have presented it in a style that would be impracticable as a live safety demontration. In doing so, they have made it watch-worthy; memorable.

A second, but equally significant advantage is that the actual, human flight attendants are no longer tied up performing a dehumanised, routine act during those precious pre-flight minutes. Instead, they are able to move freely through the cabin, interating with passengers, asking if they are comfortable, and ensuring their seat belts are fitted and their baggage is stowed safely.

A recorded safety message has not degraded the Air New Zealand passenger experience at all. Quite the contrary, by automating the routine components of a traditional air hostess’ role, and freeing her to focus on the rest, the airline has made passengers’ experience at once more fun and more personal.

I think there is much we as teachers can learn from that. If a concept needs to be explained at all (a matter for a furture blog post), and if you find yourself explaining that same concept, in the same way, over and over, year after year. Maybe it’s better to record it once, really well, and thereafter instead, focus your attention and time in class on the things that can’t be automated because they are interpersonal.

Aside: If you live in Victoria, and are interested in attending a workshop on doing exactly that – recording your best explanations in ways that are more effective than if you presented them live in class –  I have several such workshops coming up.  Each has sufficient numbers to run already (Ie. this is not a sales pitch ;-)).   If you’d like to attend, contact me and I will furnish you with the details.

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9 thoughts on “What Teachers Can Learn From Air New Zealand

  1. Fantastic idea, and you are quite right it is very entertaining. We certainly could use this idea in teaching topics that are repetitive so that we get the attention of the learners and we can focus on interacting with the students with discussions or Q & A

  2. Having just flown today, albeit a short flight, I did have to sit through the boring safety demo given by one very bored flight attendant. Thanks for relating this experience back to a classroom situation … much to ponder Andrew.

  3. Thanks Debra, and you are welcome. It really is a wonder that all airlines are not doing what Air NZ are doing, isn’t it?

  4. Hey Douchy! Just went looking to see what you are up to. I’m not disappointed; you are continuing to inspire with online remarkabilia.

    • Thanks Ann 🙂 (Is “remarkabilia” a real word. If not – it certainly should be!”)

  5. Andrew, I always love the way you are able to take real life situations and relate them so beautifully to education! In our ICT PLT Program we are currently looking at more innovative ways to create presentations, so the timing of your post and Melbourne workshop was perfect! We were fortunate enough to have a member of our ICT PLT group attend your workshop. Of course, he returned full of enthusiasm and praise for your work. (We can’t wait to hear his PL report this Monday!)
    As always, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas – we truly appreciate it!
    I hope you are having a wonderful year.
    Lucy 🙂

    • Hey Lucy! Thanks for that! It’s great to hear from you … it’s been too long! I hope all is going well for you too. Cheers Andrew

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