Suave suits soft soap you with flannel. Nuanced dialogue is trumped by dog whistle monologue. Thus, on the theme of education, there’s a universal enthusiasm for good schools, much rigour, high standards, firm discipline, and a fierce belief in excellence. As opposed to what? Bad schools, low standards, utter bedlam and a fierce belief in mediocrity? These debates make Question Time seem like an advanced Greek Symposium. It’s where thinking goes to die.
But there’s something else, something worse. It’s called “The Worm”.
You’ve probably seen it. While debates drone on, a cross-section of the general public – and most are pretty cross – is hunkered down in something called a spin bunker pressing gizmos like my crazed 8th years playing Grand Theft Auto.
Why? They are monitoring every point like an Ofsted tick-list. Their collective deliberations then surface on a sort of cardiac arrest graph below our screens.
The Worm goes wriggly-woo throughout. Mob rule, mob wisdom is thus registered. If it likes it, the Worm goes tumescent. If it doesn’t, it goes limp. If it deems it dull, it flatlines. It tends to ascend when it hears things like “the chaos of coalition and the competence of Cameron”. Alliteration beats ratiocination.
Other “concepts” that play well include “hard working families”, the rubbish Labour legacy, H Bombs, global annihilation, academies, big tax cuts, and the nightmare of millions of syphilitic former communists storming the beaches at Dover. The Worm tends to descend when it hears the more liberal agendas.
I no like Mr Worm. He feeds my paranoia. I fear he’s coming to our classrooms, that Ofsted will become an X Factor panel and the pupils a baying mob.
We’ve already got things like RateMyTeachers, where any dimwit can troll the doom of a teacher. What if pupils are given these new gizmos?
They’ll twiddle, while you burn. The Worm will wriggly-woo every second of the lesson and then vanish under your interactive whiteboard and you’ll be toast. Failure to deliver the Ofsted model and its buzzwords and you’re in the Soup Kitchen.
I’d fail all ends up. I could well forget “aims and intentions” and fall short on grooming and dandruff and body language and measurable outcomes and lucid plenaries. Dave Mania and Decibelle might make the Worm ascend, but the erratic Shaka could press anything. And the weeds and wets would consign it, and me, to oblivion.
Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.