No doubt the title has grabbed your attention but unfortunately for some people, this post is not going to champion the concept of having a school with beer on tap in the staffroom or classroom (although I am open to suggestions on that one!).
I admit my mind works in some bizarre ways some times and a certain sense of being on the spectrum prevents me from stepping off a thought treadmill. This is one of those times. Let me explain….
Having started at a new school in a new position in the last few weeks and having worked in a number of different schools in a few countries, I have come to a conclusion. To my mind, working in schools is quite unique. It is not like most other jobs. The only thing I can think of that it compares to is owning a pub. Let’s deal with the ‘quite unique’ first- What other profession do you move from one location to another and
- the culture be so different?
- the way systems and process are carried out change so radically?
- interpretation of rules and guidelines be so different from one outlet to another under the same authority?
- the expectations of staff and students change so much?
I have never been a doctor, a lawyer, a cop, a nurse, etc etc but I have had many jobs outside of teaching. In none of my previous vocations have I witnessed this. In other professions, I just can’t see how many aspects would be that much different from place to place. Of course, being a cop in a rural setting would be different than in metro likewise the day-to-day duties of a vet in a suburb are most likely different than in the country but that is not what I am referring to. I am talking about how each school, even neighbouring schools, can have variances on all the question listed above re culture, systems, etc.
The only similarity I can see is in owning a pub and the key word is ‘some’ here. Having never owned a pub, only worked and frequented a few, I am guessing at some of this but, to my mind, taking ownership of a pub means you have to do the following:
- get to know the regulars and the culture of the place
- look at how systems work in the establishment
- consider what local interpretations there are of guidelines and rules (just think of the pool table etiquette and rules for this one!!)
- think about what appeals, what is wanted and expected from clientele
So, in essence, there are some strange similarities.
Now, I am not suggesting for a minute this is bad thing. I am not quite sure what to think of it to be honest. I definitely do not want schools need to be homogeneous establishments of learning where teachers come out of the ‘Stepford’ mould. If we look at the way pub culture has been decimated in last few years in the UK and many ‘real’ character places wiped out, there is something to learn though. Schools, like pubs, have to be viable. They have to cater for what their clientele want and need. They have to be efficient and effective but most important, they can never be complacent. Constant checking over the shoulder and a focus on development, while being acutely aware of your own place, has to sit at the heart of every school.