The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

It's Work Experience time of year again, and the staff have been issued edicts from on high:
organise supervisory visits to all students within the first three days;
fund all costs of getting there and back;
not all go out on those 350 visits in 3 days at the same time;
get back in time to teach the lesson they said they'd teach (this is in London, on a terror alert, using public transport - are they completely bonkers?);
not have any fun doing it, please.

Hm. Personally I love this one - what other job allows you to go see what it's like to be a lawyer, a printer, a chartered surveyor, work at the Ritz, or the London Aquarium, try out handling a busy hospital reception for a day? If this sort of experience were stipulated, it'd cost the government billions to provide.

But it also reminds you how parochial and hemmed in we become at our jobs after a while. The employment consultant who rams you onto hold without warning, then barks dismissive responses at you as if you're not really human, or are somehow begging for their attention. The maitre d' who will be there for you, ready for you, happy to oblige at a moment's notice - whatever moment you so choose. The bank who want to ring you back, until you patiently explain that this school has one grubby telephone per 220 members of staff, and no direct lines; no they won't be able to get back to you. Nor is there a fax by the desk. No, we don't have e-mail. We don't have computers, actually. There are some in the library, but hotmail is blocked, and the Powers That Be don't want us to have OE email inboxes. So no, you have to respond now, not in ten minutes time when another bell might ring, another fight might start, another thirty kids might rush through the door, and my day will change radically and suddenly yet again.

Like I said, it's a privilege to be able to break out of it once a year and see that this lifestyle is unusual. And, actually, a damn sight more fun than most jobs.