A Teaching Analogy for the Bureaucratically Minded
Once again, as the spectre of Education ‘reform’ graces the pages of the weekend papers (that election must be close) it becomes glaring apparent that those commissioned to report (count beans) on school management and practices, wear very dark glasses. It is tempting to question if these administrators have ever been inside a classroom (or indeed a school) since their own school days. Put simply, they do not have a clue what occurs in the classroom, in the playground, or in the arena of ‘extracurricular’ activities. In fact, it is tempting to go as far as to say they are so blinded by their own desire to achieve order, symmetry, glossy graphs and a perfectly balanced spread sheet, that they have forgotten people (unlike numbers) rarely fit into prefabricated systems or models.
To offer a brief insight into the professional life of a teacher I would like to offer one analogy they may understand. Teaching a class may be likened to being in a meeting; a very important meeting where participants must be completely focused and attentive the entire time. A meeting where the success (and profitability) of the company may be measured by the outcomes produced by those present. This is a meeting where effective communication is of tantamount importance since the interests and habits of various fractional groups must be addressed. In this meeting practical solutions are sought in an attempt to address complex problems using specific strategies. Implementing these strategies requires motivation, teamwork and functional leadership. Of course, in order to ensure the success of the meeting, extensive planning is required. This attention to detail is then matched in the meeting’s aftermath through an extensive analysis of the findings.
Now imagine a daily series of these meetings, each with different departments, that take place with persistent regularity, occupying over 85% of time between 8.30 and 3.30 Monday to Friday. These meetings occur ‘back to back’ so there is little time for orientation before meeting the next department and no assistance in preparing meeting material. Often the meetings do not address all agenda items so additional meetings are required between 3.30 and 6.00pm, and on weekends.
While some may scoff, believing this to be a ‘loose’ analogy and others may claim continual ‘back to back’ meetings are no problem, the question should be asked, have they tried it? Better yet, have they ever taught a group of teenagers?