December 10, 2004
"Leave us alone you corduroy-clad arsehole …"

Nuanced observations from Harry Hutton about what he will be doing next (and why), in the education line:

Just called the British Council to see if they’ll give me a job. The thought of teaching English again fills me with acute suicidal instincts, but I'm running out of money and it's either that or sell one of my kidneys. The British Council is better than most language schools. It's run by the UK Foreign Office: all the other language schools I worked at were run by drunks. They could use this in pamphlets as their "unique selling point." It would be an improvement on "Creating Opportunity for People Worldwide," which is the current slogan.
At least it's not run by a drunk.

And when people ask me what I do I will no longer have to stare at the floor and mutter that I am a teacher "but I do other things as well". I can look them squarely in the eye and say, "I work for the cultural arm of the British Embassy, and if I don't get some respect around here I shall have you all shot."

The other advantage of working for the British Council is that there are no British Council inspections to put up with: they don't inspect themselves. Other schools have to be "accredited" by the BC, which means that every so often some bearded fuck with a clipboard will appear in your classroom, poking his long nose in. Usually, he wants to see your lesson plan, which I never have, lesson plans being strictly for poofs in my opinion. "Oh," he says, "You don't have a lesson plan," and writes something on his clipboard, deeply shocked by such depravity. When the class is over you get feedback, and he will express disappointment that you aren't using the phonetic alphabet. And do you want to know why I don't use the phonetic alphabet? Because my students couldn't tell the difference between a plosive, a fricative and a poke in the eye with a burnt stick. And if I tried to force them to learn it they would rise up and pelt me with fruit.

… and about the same amount as that more. Ever since I called this man "terse" he has been mouthing off like one of those mad people in the street.

However, the point about having a job that supplies you with a good answer to the question "And What Do You Do?" is a very good one. As are the points that follow about how "Teacher Talking Time" mustn't be too high. Don't you dare teach the buggers, in other words.

By the way, the comments at Harry's blog are often worth reading. They are even sometimes quite funny, which is rare with comments at funny blogs, in my experience. (See Barry, Dave.) This bit of comment, for example, from "dsquared", is good, and relevant to proceedings here:

Of course, some economists question whether there are not productivity implications if you have a system where only the second-raters are left to carry on actual production, while people more able than themselves try to prevent them, but that's a problem for the future. It's rather like Atlas Shrugged but with more box-ticking.

Ah box ticking ...

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 05:45 PM
Category: LanguagesSovietisationThe reality of teaching