December 13, 2002
The Brains Trust on educational Sovietisation

For a measured view of new British government proposals to entend the powers of Devil Head Teachers to discipline devil-parents for the transgressions of their devil-children, you need look no further than the Brains Trust:

The government has today announced plans to radically extend the role of state school heads, and give them increased powers over parents in an attempt to improve public discipline.

New ideas involve raising the profile of school heads in their community by a series of new measures. These include detaining parents after school for an hour if their children are "too cheeky by half", giving 100 lines to any parent seen dropping litter in the street within sight of their child, and fining parents for instances of repetitive failure to attend parent-teacher meetings or school concerts. Heads will also be expected to enforce traffic calming measures within a two-mile radius of the school. Their powers being extended to fine mothers for "bad parking" and fathers for "driving aggressively" in any German-manufactured car. Each school will retain the revenues gained from the fines levied, and will be allowed to spend them on building repairs and cream cakes for the staff room.

The serious point here is that a basically malfunctioning system is conferring ever more draconian powers on the latest group of people who are being begged to save it, in this case Head Teachers.

I mean it about Sovietisation. In the old USSR there was an entire class of management, just below the Polibureau, with powers and privileges fit for Roman Emperors, whose basic task was to Make The Bloody System Work. That legendary guy who ran the Soviet space programme was one of these superior beings. So was the famed Soviet Film Supremo Sergei Bondarchuk, as was Evgeny Mravinsky, the legendary long-time boss of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, a favourite Soviet-era super-achiever of mine. For a while, the best of such monsters do keep things semi-achieving, although at a frightful cost in frayed nerves and wrecked lives. (I've often wondered what happened to Leningrad POers who persistently played wrong notes.) But eventually the system collapses.

And another Merry Christmas to you all. My, I am in a nice mood today. Still, it's nearly the weekend, and then you'll all be able to run about and do as you please.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:20 PM
Category: Sovietisation