Archive for the ‘Satire’ Category

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The Two Types of Guardian Journalism About Where to Send your Kids to School

July 31, 2012

Dilbert.com

Type 1: Unbelievable Hypocrisy

If you had told me twenty years ago that’d I’d send my children to a private school then I wouldn’t have believed you. At the time, having gone to a top public school myself, and as an activist in the Socialist Workers Party (Oxford University branch), I thought that private schools were the cause of all Britain’s social problems and that they represented everything I hated about this country and my life. I also believed that England’s comprehensives were the finest, most noble institutions to have ever been created and that anyone who did not agree must have been influenced by the Daily Mail, the Tory Party and a virulent hatred of the poor. However, since Caitlyn and Jeremy were born I have had time to reflect. I now realise that some of my local schools aren’t as good as they should be. Class sizes in them are much too big. Some of the other children in them are funny-looking. Also, having visited my GP’s surgery 337 times this year, they have agreed that Jeremy has Special Needs and I don’t believe that the local state school can meet those needs as well as the small class sizes and dedicated teaching staff at Eton. Some may accuse me of hypocrisy but actually I just care about my children. Besides, there’s no difference between what I am doing and moving into the catchment area of a good comprehensive, converting to Anglicanism, and spending £30,000 on suing the local authority which is what most of my friends have done. I am still really left wing and radical. Just look at what I wrote last week about how I hate the royal family. I’m really radical.

Type 2: Patronising Self-Righteousness

Nobody is more evil than somebody who sends their child to a private school. I went to a top public school myself and it never did me any good, except for getting me into Oxbridge and a career in the media where I earn a six figure salary. I have lost count of all the people at my dinner parties, who said to me:

“You aren’t going to send Caitlyn and Jeremy to a state school are you? They’ll mix with the wrong sort. And would you mind passing me some more humus?”

However, after visiting the brand new building of the local academy, and checking my bank balance, I decided that it would be in society’s best interest for Caitlyn and Jeremy to go to their local state school. No, no, don’t thank me. It’s not the truly selfless, altruistic example of personal heroism it looks like. Actually it’s in Caitlyn and Jeremy’s best interest. After all, they are so gifted they don’t actually need all those small classes and extra tuition we could have paid for. What going to a state school will give them is the opportunity to make friends from a wide variety of backgrounds, including poor people. Poor people are wonderful and I believe that to the bottom of my heart even though I have never actually met a poor person. Also the teachers are wonderfully committed in my local state school. If you don’t send your child to the local comprehensive then you must hate poor people and teachers. And you’re probably a racist too. Not like me. If everyone did what I have done all the social divisions in this country would simply melt away. In fact we should make everyone do this. Otherwise it’s not fair.

What you won’t see in the Guardian is this:

I didn’t go to a private school and I can’t afford to send my kids to a private school. I hope the local state school is good enough. I know that most state comprehensives aren’t, and except for a few ideologues, most people who can afford to avoid them, or can work the system to avoid them, do so. What would be a radical left-wing policy would be to work on improving state schools so that they are good enough for even the most anxious, middle class parent to use without worrying. But that is a difficult policy to argue for in the pages of the Guardian, and not because of the cost, but because it would involve challenging some deeply held views of the middle class left. It would challenge the belief that children are natural saints whose bad behaviour only results from false consciousness created by capitalism, social problems and insufficiently compassionate teachers. It would challenge the belief that children learn best through play, having fun or being preached at about the importance of tolerance. It would challenge the belief that all we need to do is claim to care a lot, and have the most politically acceptable structures, and everything will sort itself out without a lot of effort or any change in attitude on the part of everybody with power and influence over education. Additionally, it would involve admitting that the question of where the upper middle class choose to send their children is an irrelevant distraction to the actual issue of what happens to the majority of our children in the majority of our schools.

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Progressive Teaching Methods In the Primary School

June 30, 2012

I recently saw the following comment on Twitter about plans to emphasise the teaching of grammar in primary schools (and by “emphasise” I mean “actually do”):

To understand how there can be controversy here it is necessary to understand how primary education is understood within the tradition of progressive education. Here is a flowchart to clarify matters (it may also help with the debate over phonics):

Hope that clears everything up.

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10 Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Tidy my House

March 2, 2011

This blog post is dedicated to the ardent denialists of the Local Schools Network.

Looking around my house, I really think it is a mess. I haven’t vacuumed upstairs for months. There are bags of worksheets I intended to file just left on the floor in the spare room. Letters from the NUT and the GTC sit unopened on my doormat. In the kitchen there is washing up waiting to be done and let’s not even mention the state of the bathroom.

Looking around the education system I really think it is broken. Behaviour is out of control. Academic aspirations are sidelined. Managers actively obstruct effective teaching. Now, plenty of people have told me that I am wrong about this. Perhaps I should consider the possibility that I am also wrong about the state of my house. Perhaps there are good reasons to think I don’t need to tidy up.

1) As an anonymous blogger I cannot be believed when I say my house is a mess. If it was true that my house was a mess I would be willing to say who I am and where my house is.

2) Wanting a tidy house is an unrealistic aspiration. It might seem plausible to the privileged middle classes but it is not actually practical to tidy it.

3) There hasn’t been any peer reviewed academic research that says my house needs tidying and anecdotal evidence is worthless and should be ignored.

4) There is nothing new about people saying my house needs tidying. People have been saying it for years. In fact a recently discovered, but unverified, quotation from Socrates says “Andrew’s house really is a mess. That lazy bastard should just tidy up”. This proves that fear about the tidiness of my house is a moral panic started by the Daily Mail and not a real problem.

5) Just because I am experiencing a mess where I am now, it doesn’t mean the whole of the house is messy. I have probably just tipped the bin over on the floor in front of me, and rather than taking responsibility for my own actions I am simple seeking to make out that it is a more general problem.

6) Other people have visited my house in the last few years and many of them have said it isn’t messy. This is particularly true of people who gave me advance notice and who didn’t go upstairs (or use the bathroom).

7) I am obviously writing with a particular ideological agenda. If I wasn’t biased by ideology then I would see that my house is actually still clean and tidy.

8) Moaning about how messy my house is won’t solve anything. It is just negativity, and my negativity is probably what causes any mess that I observe.

9) I may have experienced tidy houses when I was growing up but this was in an outdated world. Technology and social change have changed the meaning of “tidying” and will continue to change it for years to come and I simply need to adjust to progress and abandoned archaic nineteenth century notions like being able to see the carpet.

10) A house where you know where everything is, and where everything is clean, is a form of totalitarianism. I need to allow the dirt and clutter to clear itself up and stop being so intolerant of differences between where everything is and where I want it to be.

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Sports News

January 31, 2010

I’ve just received this from a friend in a more senior position than myself, so it must be true:

Andy Murray wins 2010  Australian Open

Following the intervention of Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Retardation and Ignorance, and in line with what is happening in British Schools, I am pleased to announce Andy Murray has won the 2010 Australian Open Tennis Tournament. It has now been made easier to win the tournament, just turning up and competing results in a trophy, a winner’s medal and a certificate of victory. This is so no one feels like a loser and so that Andy Murray does not suffer from low self esteem.

Furthermore, he has been diagnosed, by someone with no qualifications whatsoever, with a specific learning disability that means tournament organisers have to differentiate matches according to his IEP and not expect him to perform against the world number 1, as not only is this likely to result in failure and a lowering of self esteem. He is also likely to fail his target of not swearing more than once a game.

To ensure Andy always gains the success we are sure he deserves, or at least to ensure he’s successful enough that he won’t get stroppy and disruptive and swear at the umpire, we have come up with a personalised education plan where he will be examined on: being Scottish, shouting “come on” and playing on his X-Box.  Under no circumstances shall he be tested on “playing Swiss people called Roger in Grand Slam tournaments”.

Finally, in order to avoid a repeat of this morning,  Andy shall not be expected to play tennis to win matches. All Andy need do is to fill in a booklet about Tennis, with the help of Wikipedia which has all of the relevant answers. Completion of this booklet will be the equivalent of 4 Grand Slam victories.

An announcement about a new diploma in tennis playing is expected shortly.

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Negative Correlations in Teaching

November 2, 2009

Correlation 1

Correlation 2

Correlation3

Correlation 4

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Back To Work

September 3, 2009

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Charlie and the Inclusive Chocolate Factory

June 11, 2009

Even after four decades Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”remains incredibly popular. However, its moral universe is drastically at odds with those of our schools. this has now been rectified, and below, I present a new, updated end for the book:

 

“Which room shall it be next?” said Mr Wonka as he turned away and darted into the lift. “Come on! Hurry up! We must get going! And how many children are there left now?”

Little Charlie looked at Grandpa Joe, and Grandpa Joe looked back at little Charlie.

“But Mr Wonka,” Grandpa Joe called after him, “there’s only Charlie left now.”

Mr Wonka swung round and stared at Charlie.

There was a silence. Charlie stood there holding tightly on to Grandpa Joe’s hand.

“You mean you’re the only one left?” Mr Wonka said, pretending to be surprised.

“Why, yes,” whispered Charlie. “Yes.”

Mr Wonka suddenly exploded with excitement “But my dear boy,” he cried out, “that means you’ve lost!

“I don’t understand.” said Charlie.

“Of course you don’t!” said Mr Wonka, excitedly. “Listen. I’m an old man. I’m much older than you think. I wanted my legacy to be that I’d give away my factory to badly behaved children in order to help them with their special needs. However, unlike the other four children you don’t seem to have any problems at all, so you’re not getting anything.”

“B-b-but…” stammered Grandpa Joe, “what problems did those awful children have?”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” said Mr Wonka, “we won’t have any of that labelling here. Listen and I will explain. Mike Teavee may have seemed disinterested in other human beings and to have an unhealthy interest in guns and violence. However, this really only indicates a short attention span and hyperactivity. The poor boy is ill with ADHD and unrestricted access to a chocolate factory can only help him with his affliction.”

“I don’t believe I’m hearing this”, said Grandpa Joe.

“As for Violet Beauregarde, her continual chewing of gum was clearly a form of obsessive behaviour. That, and her lack of social awareness about what to do with discarded gum, strikes me as clear evidence that she is somewhere on the autistic spectrum.”

“For pity’s sake” whispered Charlie.

“I suppose you’ll be telling us that Veruca Salt has a special need next.” said Grandpa Joe. “All that spoilt girl needed was a good slap.”

“How dare you?” cried Mr Wonka. “Anybody who slaps a child is worse than Hitler! You should have noticed that poor Veruca was suffering from a terrible anger management problem.”

“What about Augustus Gloop?” asked Charlie. “He was greedy and fat. How does that make him deserve a chocolate factory?”

“Ah-ha!” cried Mr Wonka, “That dear child was clearly suffering from poor self-esteem. I hate to think what torment he was going through.”

“This is ridiculous” said Grandpa Joe. “None of those children had real problems. Charlie, on the other hand, has been sleeping on the floor his entire life, and has been eating nothing but bread and cabbage for six months. He’s starving. Isn’t that a real hardship you could help with?”

“Don’t be silly” said Mr Wonka. “Charlie may look like a skeleton but he has been polite and well-behaved throughout this trip. He clearly can’t have any real problems. Now, off you go! I have to take the other, more troubled children to the Great Glass Student Support Department where a thousand Oompa-Loompas will help them with their needs by catering to their every whim.”

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What if Senior Managers Told the Truth?

March 28, 2009

Good morning.

Before we start our first INSET session today I am going to waste ten or fifteen minutes with introductory remarks. This is because nobody else wanted to do this and we had some time to fill this morning. To begin with I’d like to start by saying that I am very happy about much of what I have seen happening at the school this term. I am particularly happy about my pay-rise and my fact-finding trip to study teaching methods in the Bahamas. I have been less happy to see that people have noticed that no child ever does a detention. I am also concerned that the biscuits at governors’ meetings have changed from bourbons to custard creams.

Our main focus for INSET today will be teaching and learning. By “teaching and learning” I mean a bunch of ridiculous gimmicks that nobody sees the point of or actually has time to do but which we are convinced OFSTED will be looking for.

Firstly, I will go through the schedule for today, even though nobody really cares about any of it except when lunch is and how early we can go home.

Our first session will be with our least stupid assistant head. He will drone on about using data. During this session some graphs will be shown to suggest that we aren’t doing too badly, and to suggest some targets that will never be met. It will be heavily implied that if the targets aren’t met then it will be your fault.

Our next session will be about some nonsense known only by its initials. This will be led by an incompetent middle manager who we had to promote out of harm’s way. You will expected to incorporate what you learn into your lesson plans for the next six months, when it will be replaced by some other initiative with a different set of initials.

After this we will break for tea and coffee. We will expect you to hang around outside the hall complaining about how bored you are, discussing what was the silliest INSET task you ever did, and speculating as to whether we will finish early.

Then we will send you to your departments to carry out some mind-numbing task vaguely related to the waffle you have heard. In case you ignore the instructions and try and do something useful instead we will insist you report back after lunch. Whichever member of your department is least able to avoid it will be expected to present something to the rest of the staff. We don’t care what they say, so long as the whole session takes up at least 45 minutes.

In our final activity, we will all write platitudes about what kind of learners we want our school to produce and our most stupid assistant head will read them out. Nobody will suggest we want them to be “clever” or “academic”. Finally I will return from my office to announce what a successful day it has been.

Before we begin I’d just like to say a few words about the members of staff who are leaving today. You’re all bastards. Thank you.

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Rewriting the Dictionary

August 30, 2008

“Well then I think we are all agreed as to what a teacake is. What’s the next word, Jessop?”

“It’s ‘teach’, sir. In our last edition we defined it as `give systematic information to (a person) or about (a subject or skill)’. However, we define a `teacher’ as ‘somebody who teaches, especially in a school’ and, as I was a teacher before I became a lexicographer’s assistant, I can’t help but notice that, as a teacher, I was never expected to give systematic information”

Were you not? Do teachers not do that these days?”

“Well, some do, sir, but generally speaking it’s frowned upon. Children aren’t really meant to be informed anymore, they should be finding things out for themselves and thinking about open ended questions. The general feeling is that they shouldn’t be bogged down with lots of useless knowledge that they could look up on the internet if they ever needed it.”

“Are they instructed in how to discover things for themselves? Could we say that teaching is `systematic instruction’?”

“Again, I’m sure some teachers do instruct but it is frowned upon. Students don’t really have to follow instructions any more. They are meant to be self-directed.”

If teachers aren’t meant to give information and aren’t able to make students find out information for themselves, then what are they meant to do, how are they meant to learn?”

The teacher is meant to entertain them.”

“But if a teacher can’t tell them entertaining information or make them do entertaining things, how is the teacher meant to entertain them?”

“Well by getting to know them, building a relationship.”

“This is all very vague, Jessop. They aren’t parenting the children, they aren’t instructing them. What sort of relationship is this?”

“One based on personality, I guess. Teachers are responsible for children’s emotional well-being”

“Emotional well-being?”

“Happiness. Teachers should be cheering children up. Making them smile.”

Oh, I see. Humorous entertainment, Jessop. So could we say that to teach is to be systematically entertaining in a humorous way?”

“Teachers aren’t really meant to be systematic anymore. They are meant to fit their teaching to individual pupils instead of following a rigid style.”

“Could we say teaching is being humorously entertaining about a subject, then?”

“Actually, the last I heard was that teachers were meant to see themselves as teaching children not subjects. Traditional subjects are seen as artificial.”

“I see. So to `teach’ is to ‘humorously entertain children’?”

I guess so, sir.

“It all seems very odd to me. But I guess it will have to do. What’s the next word?”

“It’s `teacher`”

“So, Jessop, can we say a teacher is `a person employed to humorously entertain children?’”

“I think so. Hang on, sir, just one slight problem.”

“Yes, Jessop?”

“We’ve already used that as our definition of `clown’.”

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A Personality Clash

August 10, 2008

Being an open-minded sort of person I can often see things from more than one perspective. For instance the following “personality clash” between myself and Lemuel can be seen quite differently depending on whether you are myself, Lemuel, or Miss Rush, Lemuel’s head of year, a Special Needs teacher who wasn’t actually in the room.

My Point Of View

In you come, Lemuel, I’m afraid you’re late. Please sit down. The work’s on the board.

“Yeah, yeah.”

*

We’re now 15 minutes into the lesson, can you please start the work, Lemuel?

“I’ve only just come in”

You’ve had five minutes now, some people have almost finished. Well done, girls. If you don’t start you are choosing to get a warning

*

Okay, Lemuel, I’m giving you your first warning. Can you stop drawing that picture of a car and get on with the work, please?

“How was I meant to know I was meant to do that?”

Please, just put that picture away, or I’ll have to give you your next warning

*

I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you your second warning, now, Lemuel. We’ve had twenty minutes and most people have finished. And I need to start the main part of the lesson. If I could just have quiet please everyone. Thank you very much. Today we are going to be doing …

“I never done nuffink. You gave me a second warning for nuffink.”

Please don’t talk while I’m talking to the class, Lemuel, I will have to give you your third warning and a detention.”

“This is gay”

I’m afraid you’ve chosen to get you third warning. Now please stop talking so I can start the lesson or you will be choosing to get sent out.

“I don’t care”.

Sshhh! If I can just have quiet again. Thank you very much everyone. Today we will be …

“I hate this fucking crap”.

I’m afraid you’ll have to leave the room now.

Lemuel’s Point Of View

In you come, Lemuel, just go over there and talk to you friends, we’ll do some work later.

“Yes, thank you.”

*

We’re now 15 minutes into the lesson, can you get on with your picture of a car please, Lemuel? I’ll tell you later if there’s going to be any work to do.

“Yes, sir”

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well done, girls. Blah, blah, blah

*

Blah, blah,blah, blah. Can you just finish off your picture of the car in the next five minutes or so and get on with the boring work, please?

“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t realise there was any work.”

Please, just do your best drawing, and don’t worry about the work.

*

I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you your second warning, now, Lemuel. We’ve had twenty minutes and most people have finished. And I need to start the main part of the lesson. Don’t worry, Lemuel, I’ll just talk over your conversation. Today we are going to be doing …

“Sorry Sir I haven’t done anything, why did I get a second warning?”

Please don’t talk while I’m talking to the class, Lemuel, I will have to give you third warning and a detention.

“I’m not entirely sure this is fair, sir”

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now please stop talking or I will have to send you out for nothing.

“That seems fair, sir. I’ll be quiet now.”.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Blah,blah blah, blah, blah.

“Sir, can I ask a question”.

That’s it, I’m sending you out for absolutely no reason.

Miss Rush’s Point of View

In you come, you little bastard. Sit down, now. The work’s on the board and you’ll be in trouble if you don’t do it. I don’t care about all your special needs.

“Yes, sir, Mr Old. Please don’t hit me again, sir.”

*

We’re now 15 seconds into the lesson, hand over your work, boy!

“Here it is, Sir. And here’s my homework too. I spent three hours on it”

You call this homework? I could piss this in my sleep. Have three detentions.

*

Okay, you spaz, your picture of a car is crap. You draw like a girl. Have another detention.

“Please, sir, I can’t do another detention, my father’s seriously ill in hospital”

Good, I hope he dies soon. Now get on with copying out of a textbook or I’ll come to your house and molest your sister.

*

Here, have another ten detentions, Lemuel, you retard. We’ve had two minutes and most people have finished. Now I need you to listen to me just for the sake of it. Anybody who so much as breathes will get a detention. Terrible, you’re all thick. Now does anybody have any questions?

“Please, Mr Old, don’t hurt me but can I ask a question about the work?”

No. I don’t want questions from a spacker. Have another detention.

“Sorry, Mr Old, sir. I don’t know what I was thinking of. I think it’s because I haven’t eaten for a week.”

I’m afraid I’ve chosen to give you another detention. Now please stop snivelling, I don’t ever want to look at your weasel face again.”

“Sorry, Mr Old”.

Shut up, loser! God, I hate children. Anyway, today we will be discussing how Lemuel’s mother is a whore.

“I’m sorry, sir I’m a bit upset about this. She only died last month”

Piss off!”.

I suppose in a way, all these accounts of my personality clash with Lemuel are true to some extent. But in another, more literal way, only the first one is.

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