Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Personal Touch

Let me preface this post with a little background. I have a son who's a freshman in high school. He's doing a great job, and the school has some amazing opportunities - for example, one project involved building boats from 2 liter bottles and other supplies, and reenacting historical naval events at the community pool, with several students riding each boat. Great stuff for sure.

I think, though, in their quest to communicate with parents, a little bit of the personal touch might have been lost. Getting pre-recorded phone messages from the principal, reminding us about upcoming events, is fine, although I'm not a huge van of robot phone messages.

Yesterday, however, I think it probably went a bit too far. I answered the phone, and got the following message, spoken by a computerized voice. Words in [brackets] indicate pauses in the speech where various fields were filled in by the machine. Name is, of course, a place holder.

Today, your [son], [name], is doing [an excellent job] in [seventh period]. To hear this message again, press one.

That's it. Great to hear he's doing so well, but exactly what did he do? Did something impress one of his teachers? Should I congratulate him on the robotic kudos? It's just not very much to go one. I'd rather have a written note, with a little more information, to give some nice positive encouragement - it's a bit weak to say "Hey, son! Nice job on that thing you did in seventh period. Keep it up!"

So, to cap this story off, I asked my son how seventh period was going. "Dad, it's just P.E. - we don't do anything except stand around and shoot hoops". Huh. So I asked if he'd talked to the teacher or done anything special in class that day. As it turns out, that day was a "minimum day", and they didn't even have a seventh period. So whatever "excellent job" he did, he wasn't present for.

Kinda makes me want to install some software and leave a voice message for the school:

Yesterday, your [impersonal voice automated system], left a [confusing] message. You might want to [check your computer].

1 comment:

Sprig said...

A brief follow up - apparently *every* student in the class got one of these messages, further illustrating the pointlessness of it all.