The American Way (Part 2)

One definition of stupidity is trying the same tactic in the same situation, over and over again, in the hope that this time the result will be different.

Examples include:
  • Students trying to flatter their teacher into giving them a discount on their fee, especially when it's not the teacher who decides the fee
  • Teachers using the same crappy textbook that uses obscure technical terminology to explain simple ideas
  • Schools employing Urdu-speakers with basic English to teach Arabic-speakers with even less
Another definition is trying to quantify the unquantifiable.

  • Teachers measuring student english level as a percentage of an imaginary "total fluency"
  • Doing it with an exam, yielding the very precise and totally meaningless estimate that Student X has 68.3% of perfection.
  • Doing the same for teachers with 'assessments'. Apparently teachers can assess students, students can assess teachers, and managers can assess teachers, but the only people wise enough to assess managers are other managers.
A third is: Thinking you can make reality your personal bitch the same way you try with people. Using bullshit, bribes and promises.

And when that doesn't work, shouting, bullying, threatening, intimidation...and writing memos.

And when that doesn't work, insisting that you've won already, hoping the universe will be tired enough to not contradict you. Animism and anthropomorphism are probably the oldest superstitions on the planet, and the hardest to kill.

So, I have now had four days of working for this insane company, which is odd, as there's only been work for two of them.

Interlink has grudgingly accepted that students don't come into lessons on non-American national holidays. But it has yet to grasp that they don't come in on days leading up to, or following from, national holidays.

Hence orders from head office that I and my colleagues sit in our classrooms for six hours a day, even when there are exactly zero students.

We can't mark them as 'Absent', because if we did, we'd have to expel them for multiple absenses because the Big Book Of Stupidly Inflexible Rules says we have to. So we mark them as 'Late'. Specifically, that they will be two weeks late, when (if) they return after the holidays.

So why can't we just lie and mark them as 'Present'? That is, after all, the tradition in this country. Yes, it really is. Officially, a class cannot be empty, so if it is empty, it's officially full. Why can't we adopt the local custom and do this?

The answer is that in book-keeping, spoken lies don't count, but written ones do. Lying on a school register is Document Fraud(TM), which is Very Bad(TM). Plus, if anyone is registered as 'Present', there must also be a record of What They Were Taught. And of Whether They Learned It. And if they didn't, Why Not? Non-existence is not considered a valid excuse.

In bureaucracy, as in sitcoms, lies lead to more lies.

So, I have been sitting in my classroom, catching up on podcasts, reading and working out abstruse bits of grammar. My colleagues have been doing all the pointless paperwork for the job, which the job didn't give them time for before. And our manager has been very busy, co-ordinating the inactivity by skype with other managers.

And his manager gets to spend extra hours in bed, so we don't have to deal with his confident self-belief.

So lets hear it for stupidity. If you're a bit clever and a bit lucky, you can get things done while the idiots are trying to define how to get things done.

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