Why Sir Alan Steer Should Stick his Stupid Lying Report up his ArseFebruary 14, 2009
Next time you see the latest news from Australia about the tragic bushfires that have destroyed people, property and nature, I’d like you to try the following thought experiment.
Imagine that you were an Australian firefighter who had seen the fires first hand. Imagine that, while you may not have suffered terribly yourself, you had found it stressful and you were aware that the problem was huge and was wrecking lives. Now imagine that you switched on the television to watch the news and heard there was a new report from a committee headed by a senior firefighter, described as the government’s “bushfire tsar” claiming that there were no bushfires. Imagine that it was claimed that academics recognised the truth that there were no dangerous fires, just poor firefighting. Imagine that a representative from the firefighters’ union appeared to agree with this, carefully suggesting that if firefighters had been better trained then nothing bad would ever happen.
Now imagine that this was followed by an interview with the “bushfire tzar”. Imagine he explained that actually the bushfire problem was less severe than it had ever been and as evidence of this he observed that the Australian Tourist Board hadn’t been complaining about fires. Imagine that, having claimed there wasn’t a problem with bushfires, he conceded there might be a more general environmental problem, but that this problem had been around for hundreds and thousands of years. As proof of this he might suggest that many years ago as a child, perhaps in the Scouts, he saw a campfire, but in all his years as a firefighter he’d never seen a naked flame. Imagine if he then proceeded to pour scorn on the idea that anyone could ever have poured water on fires as there was no evidence that pouring water on fires had ever stopped combustion occurring in the first place. Imagine if he described pouring water on fires as something that showed a lack of intelligence, and complained that people were hypocritical and uncaring if they object to seeing woods burned to the ground. Imagine if he finished by claiming that he’d recognise that his suggestions had been successful if people stopped calling the fire brigade so often.
I’m too lazy to reference every experience and every statistic I have ever put on this blog to explain why what Sir Alan is saying is an evil pack of lies. But I am still shocked that he could so blatantly refuse to acknowledge the violence, abuse and disobedience in our schools and the management culture that condones it. This is not just because Steer’s claims contradict my own personal experience in several schools. This is not just because they are countered by what I’ve been told by hundreds of teachers and ex-teachers I’ve met in real life or heard from online, and what’s been said by thousands of teachers in surveys and opinion polls. This is not just because his claims defy reason by suggesting that good relationships cause good behaviour, rather than the other way round, or by claiming that a problem can be both non-existent and a natural and unchanging part of childhood. The reason I am shocked by these claims is because they are such that even a slightly honest man could have found reason not to say such things.
It really wouldn’t take much to realise that this would lead to teachers up and down the country starting their half-term by spitting their coffee at the TV screen. All Sir Alan would have needed to do to test his ideas for plausibility is to put down his fiddle for a moment and sign up as a volunteer firefighter, sorry, secondary supply teacher for a few weeks. This way he’d be visiting, not a few handpicked schools as an honoured guest, but a good number of disaster areas as part of the frontline. If he survived the inevitable abuse, intimidation, insubordination and blame that are a part of so many schools, he’d emerge with nothing more than a desire to put a match to his own report. This is, of course, assuming that none of his colleagues had discovered who he was. After all, how many teachers would, in the interests of natural justice, want to make sure that this particular revisionist tract was firmly inserted somewhere he wouldn’t be able to reach easily?