Trouble Brewing at Snake Mountain High

(A) “Morning Mr Skeletor. Welcome to Eternia High. I’m Adam. It’s good to finally meet you. We’ve heard a lot about you in the media.”

(S) “Yes, thank you, it’s good to finally step foot inside my new school. By the way did you get the memo about the name change, Snake Mountain High? You’ll need to let the clients know.”

(A) “Okaaaay. The staff, children and families are keen to hear what your vision for the school is.”

(S) “Never mind that, let’s get on with a tour of the plant then, there’s plenty to sort out before wading into that soft stuff.”

(A) “Yes Mr Skeletor. Here’s a map for the tour.”

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(A) “We noted your memo about wanting to see how your technological donations were being used here at school. We’ll drop into a few classes and see how things are progressing.”

(S) “Great. The intention was always to differentiate our innovation to be truly disruptive. Education is a fertile hotbed of technocentric aspiration ready for the next silver bullet.”

(A) “Hey, come again? What does that even mean?”

(S) “Oh sorry, that’s corp-speak. You’ll pick it up.”

(A) “Here we go. Meet Mr Oliver Orco. He’s our Head of IT. He has been doing some really interesting work of late. Frankly (whispering), even he is struggling with the new gadgetry, and he’s pretty clued up about this stuff.”

(S) “Why? It’s child’s-play.”

(A) “It might be Mr Skeletor, but frankly we have such a constipated curriculum and our staff are so under the pump that we have struggled to find time to offer professional development on it, trial it, test it etc. I’m the only one who has had time to have a play, and even then I had to be taken off a class, which is unfair on the students.”

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(S) “Give it time, you’ll work it out.”

(A) “Riiiggghhhttt. Can I just ask …. What are you actually expecting us to do with all this tech though? What’s the expectation, and why are we collecting data on our students? Don’t we have to declare this to parents? That’s the legal thing to do right?”

(S) “Probably. Just remember, you’re a business now and we’re always looking for feedback and data to improve the product. You wait until I show you our SUSPECT tool, the ‘Schools Unbelievable Surveillance, Performance and Evidence Checker and Tracker’! You want evidence-based, I’ll give you evidence-based. It’s an analytics package, remote surveillance, a performance-appraisal tool, and get this … it not only sorts out the pedagogical (that is a word right?) preference for you and amalgamates a heap of variables and spits out a rating – does all thinking for you. Look, it’ll stop you getting stressed out about all that Pizza league table stuff and NAPKIN testing. It’s mustard!”

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(A) “Surveillance you say? You do realise that teachers value professional trust, pedagogical choice and feedback from real people? People who spend time in classrooms, getting to know you, your students and can name and notice what you are actually doing?”

(S) “What? There are think-tank’s, Toolkits and research consortiums who do that for you. What a bonkers notion, teachers researching and getting feedback on their practice from other teachers.”

(A) “I think it’s time you met some of our wonderful teachers. We are so blessed here at Eternia High, whoops sorry, Snake Mountain High that they are as dedicated as they are. Mind you, they are pretty strung out at the moment. Even our best are being hammered by sky-high marking piles, over-assessment, policy change, vision change … ha ha, I could go on. Mr Skeletor, I’d like you to meet Mr Terry Trap-Jaw.”

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(S) “What’s up with him?”

(A) “Like I said, all these targets, moving goalposts and change fatigue is taking its toll”. He’s usually very upbeat and motivated. Oi Terry, wake up mate, I’d like you to meet our new boss.”

(T) “Yeah, hi. Look, I’m really busy at the moment and need to prepare for next lesson.”

(S) “That’s it? Wow, how do you operate with such disrespect for authority? In the corporate world, he’d be hung out for that kind of attitude.”

(A) “Woah, steady on. We are an educational establishment. Have you any idea how complex schools are? The contextual nuances, the unique challenges and high demands placed on us from government, local authority and from ourselves – because we care and want to do our best – we don’t need all these distractions.”

(S) “I’m not paying you to think. I’m paying you to do. We don’t have time for all this PD guff, collaboration, staff voice and the like. Look, I’ve seen enough. You have your work cut out turning this place around. I want no excuses – from you or the students. I want a return on investment.”

(A) “Are you kidding me? Have you ever stepped inside a school before? Do you actually know how they work?”

(S) “Yeah, when I was at school. That’s back when they were REAL quality.”

(A) “I think we are done here. It’s Friday, 3pm and the last day of the school year. Time for the staff to down tools and exhale before their well-earned break. They work then by the way! We are having some karaoke in staff lounge. We’ve got a great Bee Gee’s tribute band. Fancy a drink with the staff? It would be great for you to spend some time with them.”

3

(S) “No, I have to fly back to the office. I’ll make sure the newly branded ties, blazer badges and stationary will be ready by the New Year. Oh, and I’ll send you the link to your new website and make sure you have you’re message control right for our clients.”

(A) “Great, absolutely can’t wait!”

(S) “That’s encouraging feedback. See, I do have empathy. I’ll send you a link to an evaluation survey for this experience.”

(A) “Again, can’t wait for that. In a bit.”

(S) “Oh yeah, Adam, don’t worry yourself about strategy, planning or decision-making, we’ll do all that for you.”

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2 thoughts on “Trouble Brewing at Snake Mountain High

  1. Even more apropos when certain schools are looking at sourcing principals whose background and experience are leagues away from education…

  2. Peter A Barnard

    Love it. Reminds me of the Teacher Development Agency in an odd way.

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