I have seen the future of education and it’s corporate. It’s a 7th year pupil in a silly suit, incurious, industrious, obsequious and going on 37. The Corporate Kid, a grim mix of Dickens’ Bitzer and the Leadership Group. It’s what the prime minister seems to want – “hard-working people”, fit for the global race, who must “earn or learn” – or fail or starve or move to Burnley or sell skunk or clean chimneys or get put in stocks or quietly shot.
Whatever. It’s no good old gits like me cursing. I must embrace this thrusting, cutting-edge, mission-visioning, blue-sky thinking, jargon-croaking, big-upping, self-helping, post-industrial, post-compassion and past-caring global market place. Or be toast, as my headteacher observed, when he handing me the brown envelope with the bullet.
My old school embraces it like billyho. It’s gone corporate bonkers and brags that its great glass folly costs £80 million, is made of over 700 tonnes of steel, and has 92 copper, brass and bronze fins. Blimey. “It would take 41.4 billion Smarties to fill the Atrium”. Yikes galore! Is this good? A game changer?
“We must send Cuthbert there, darling! It’s got a whopping great Atrium!” “Rather!”
Discipline has a Govean rigour, surveillance an Orwellian terror and punctuality is blue murder. Pupils “must be in by 8:30am”. Failure “may result in a £60 fine”. Honest. A few “lates” and you could be in the Poorhouse. Uniform is terrifically prescriptive. Trousers will be worn “around the waist not the hips”. Ties will be knotted, shoes will shine, shirts will be tucked and hair will be perkily tufty.
There will be no shaved eyebrows, tramlines in hair, dyed hair or shaved heads – or “tights intentionally worn with ladders or holes”. This last presumably pertains more to girls. It all applies “in or out of school”.
The 6th form wardrobe is even more corporate. Males will have a “formal suit and formal business shirt”. Hair should “demarcate adult men” and be “acceptable in business life”. Ditto girls, except their tresses should “demarcate adult business women”. The Apprentice look would seem to be what’s wanted.
The language throughout is, of course, Snake Oil Corporate, smug as an Apple advert. Are our pupils mere fodder for the global markets? Is this where education is only going? Is there any hope?
Perhaps. I see some 7th year pupils at a bus stop. I’m afraid they’re a mite transgressive. Ties are skew-whiff, shirts akimbo, trousers half-mast, hair in divots and jokes terrifically immature. They are larking and laughing like children, not earning or learning, like trainee corporate clots in a global race. But can it last?