March 19, 2003
Normal Service – and why it is probably about to be interrupted until next Monday

I'm off to Poland tomorrow to speak at a Libertarian International Conference. This means that tomorrow and on Friday of this week, I will, for the first time since I began this, almost certainly not be posting anything here. The almost is because (a) I may manage to get my hands on an internet connection while there, and (b) I may, and this would be even more remarkable, even manage to get it to work. But don't hold your breath. Libertarians are famously well connected people, and I expect the Conference to be bursting with laptops. But it may not be so bursting with laptops with internet connections. I'll try, is all I'll say here. Also, I might manage something at 12.05 am tomorrow, if I can't get to sleep any earlier than that.

But, if you hear nothing from me tomorrow or the next day, use the time to catch up with your homework, or read a good book.

Now that I am probably about to break this rule of putting up something every week day, let me now emphasise that at least come Monday, the rule will be back as if nothing had happened.

I am interested in education as it is, and not just as it ought to be. And one of the dogmas of education as it is is that teachers should Keep On Coming. It's one of the great teaching cliché's of our time (because true) that whenever a new teacher arrives in a class room, there is a huge power struggle, during which the teacher tries to stay and the pupils try to make him go.

Partly of course this is just a pure blood sport without blood, the thrill of the chase, and the chance to chase down a week member of the hated adult herd. Life in prison is like this.

But there is a rational point here as well. The pupils don't want to commit to a relationship which isn't going to last. Remember that moment during other relationships where he/she (usually she, I suggest) moves from best-face-forward romancing to seeing if you have staying power. Okay, with pupils versus teachers it goes straight to phase two, but the principle is somewhat the same. Far better the stability and emotional continuity of uninterrupted hostility to Them, all the time, than committing to one of Them, and then possibly being abandoned.

Thus it is that the Average Teacher, a person I do want to communicate, despite my severe criticisms of a lot of what he or she does (and because of it of course), sets great store by just keeping on keeping on. Like marriage, teaching, as it mostly is now, requires a daily effort, a daily grind, a constant gritting of the teeth and biting of the tongue. And, an absolute ability to resist the temptation to commit any acts of violence.

And talking of marriage, I also want to make some sense to the Average Parent, and also to the Not So Average Parent who is into home educating, child autonomy, and other such besandled exoticisms.

I don't think teaching and parenting has to be this hideous daily grind and nothing else. But insofar as both consist at least partly of simply looking after and out for children, they do required a daily commitment from someone every day of the week. (Actual teaching can often be done very well in a much less relentless and dispiriting fashion, in my opinion. See the posting immediately below this one.)

Well you can see where I'm going with this. If I can't even manage one little blog posting every day on the mere subject of education – with the whole world of education to choose from, and with a completely non-captive readership, none of whom are forced to be present and none of whom therefore require to be quietened or fought off by me without me being sued by their psychotic parents for assaulting them before any of the quieter ones can even hear what I'm saying, to say nothing of filling in a hundred forms every week explaining what I've been doing about racism awareness, the School Bullying Policy, the encouragement of foreign languages and computer skills, oh and the fact that two of my alleged pupils (whom I've never met) have just been done for armed robbery and three of them are pregnant, etc. etc. – then what the hell right to I have pontificating about anything educational whatsoever?

Well, the logical and true answer is that I have every right. But I wouldn't feel comfortable doing this. I wouldn't, that is to say, feel comfortable posting for this blog in the lackadaisical way I post stuff on my other blog. I wouldn't feel that I had any place in the world of education if I couldn't even do this small thing.

One of the orthodoxies of blogging is that you should only do it when you feel like it. Well, for this blog, I feel like doing it five times a week, minimum, at least once every working day.

This rule has, I'm sure you agree, resulted in some very so-so postings here. But I believe it has also resulted in me writing things which have turned out better than that. All serious writers have a daily routine, and I do too. Writing daily here just means fitting this blog into my routine.

So, on Monday, I'll be back, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday …

With any luck at all I'll have discovered all kinds of educational wisdoms and thinkings in Poland, from Poland itself and from the various other libertarians assembled.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:43 PM
Category: This blog