Friday, 23 January 2015

Running from the Goat Prize

I'm having a Groucho Marx moment ... you know, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member" ...

It's beginning to feel as though in order to be involved in education you must join a club. There is a sudden proliferation of 'education clubs' either overt like the proposed 'College of Teachers' or the 'Society for Education and Training' or covert as in TeachMeets, and other organised hilarity, after work, some way from home and no goodie bag.

We'll all be wearing matching yellow blazers next and going to Yoga classes over Skype before morning lessons.

Now, I do sound like a grouch.

Look, I'm all for sharing, I'm a collaborative person, I like people, other teachers, students, Principals, heck, I once kissed an Ofsted Inspector; it's just all so sudden.

Teachers/lecturers/support staff, whatever our label, we've been a pretty much unloved bunch for quite some time. We were the job role equivalent of the sad girl/boy standing against the wall, waiting for someone to ask us to dance, drinking Fanta and then going home alone, sobbing to ourselves.

Staff rooms were traditionally used for moaning. Darkly embittered old lags, no longer able to spend their breaks having a crafty fag, now used the time to demolish the aspirations of newly minted, glowingly enthusiastic new recruits.

Dire tales of long hours, nasty students, wilful management and government policies of Euripidean proportions.  Oh the paperwork, the pay, the conditions, the lack of respect and collaboration they called, those sirens on the edges of education, luring unwaring teachers onto the jagged rocks of doom. 

Now, almost overnight, we've been transformed into the most sociable, club joining bunch of employees that have ever existed.

Someone get me on the list for the opening of Classroom 54 please.

What's happened, why has it happened so quickly; more importantly, will it disappear just as quickly?

Can we actually sustain this level of interaction, enthusiasm and supervision? Going to endless events, logging on to endless websites, listening to endless experts tell us how to be 'better', 'more efficient', 'more effective', and all the while, giving up more and more of our limited free time and our limited salaries to ensure that we were 'there' when somebody said something to someone and everybody clapped.

More importantly, when did we, as professionals suddenly need to be 'told what to do' by so many? Are we in danger of losing our individuality, our spark, our essence, if we constantly share and emulate?

I enjoy the collaboration, I enjoy meeting others, but do we really all have to be the same?
If we don't go, don't join in, do we get left behind, left out ... consigned to the bike shed of 'old teachers'. I hope not.

Clubs, Societies, etc are good things; they use their power to enhance, but there are concerns. They eventually grow too large to really respond to anyones needs but their own. That's my fear. Having gathered us all in, entranced us with the bright lights, they close their doors, leaving a generation floating hopelessly as the scaffolding they depend on is withdrawn.

I'd like to enjoy it whilst it lasts, but, you know, even Andy Warhol got old ...

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