It has come to my attention that the latest education fad to hit our fair state is to call schools "learning communities". I read this term in the latest communique from our school, and as soon as I saw it, my blood started to boil.
Having spent years working in and around the public sector, I have seen many departmental, divisional, agency, authority, corporation, group and sector name changes. I have seen Directors become General Managers, General Managers become Group General Managers, Group General Managers become Vice Presidents and then Presidents and then Executive Vice Presidents. I have seen authorities turn into companies and then into agencies and then back into authorities. Personnel became HR, and then it became People Management. Bookkeeping became Accounting, and then morphed into Finance. IT became MIS and then IS and then IMT and then ICT. Secretaries became Admin Assistants and then Executive Assistants. Clients became customers. Customers became Stakeholders. Delivering services became Service Delivery.
None of it made a lick of difference.
The constant shuffling of organisation charts, titles, reporting relationships, matrix structures, performance management systems and language made no impact on how competently or incompetently the organisation was run. For one thing failed to change - the utter boneheads working in the engine room.
Call them what you like - WOFTAMs (Waste Of Fucking Time And Money), SLUHFBys (Slack, Lazy, Useless, Hopeless, Fucking Bastards), Zipperheads, Twonks, Zeroes, Fucking Fucked Fuckheads - they stayed the same. Mouth-breathers in polyester shirts and plastic, zip-up shoes. Never at their desks before 9am, computers switched off 10 minutes before leaving time, out the door exactly 7 hours and 21 minutes after starting work. Changing the name of the Department of Clusterfucks to the Agency for Superior Service Delivery and instituting a Quality Management program produced little more than the purchase of a large number of new business cards, and perhaps the upgrade of some mobile phones to Blackberries.
So excuse me if I am a little jaded when our school decides that they are part of a "learning community".
Not long ago, we got to spend the afternoon with the parents of some of Junior's contemporaries. It was an interesting experience on the whole, meeting some new people and chatting about this and that.
One couple in particular blew me away, and not in a good way.
They turned up with two kids - one Junior's age and one a few years younger. We introduced ourselves to the eldest, and then asked the parents for the name of the younger.
Dad piped up with, "We call him stupid".
Queue my jaw clunking into my chest.
"He's a mouthy little bastard, always getting into trouble".
Stupid: "No I'm not"
Dad: "YOU SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH OR YOU'LL BE SITTING HERE ALL FUCKING DAY DOING NOTHIN' AT ALL".
Queue my jaw flapping open and shut with no noise coming out. At this point, the handbrake in my brain has been yanked on, and I have just slid off the road into a mental ditch in a cloud of tyre and synapse smoke. I just don't know what to say. I am at more than a loss - I am a guppy fish blowing bubbles in a fish tank.
So we pretend not to notice, and carry on.
The youngster seems normal and intelligent, and displays no horrible character traits, such as trying to brain perfect strangers with a half brick, or setting fire to puppies. He doesn't appear to be stupid.
But stupid is what he gets called all afternoon.
So I say to the Education Department; rename as many schools as you like to "learning communities". I am going to put myself into the lotus position on the floor, say "omm" a lot and cease to care. I will not allow my blood to increase in temperature by one degree farenheit. I will be calm and relaxed. I will be relaxed and comfortable.
Because I know that it won't make a lick of difference so long as half the parents are in the habit of calling their offspring "stupid". Do you think that someone with that mentality is engaged at all in the education of their sprogs? I suspect that they don't even know which school he goes to.
Sorry - "learning community".