Managers

Juvenal in Satire X describes the recurrent human tendency to aim for the wrong thing, and the consequences that can follow. Samuel Johnson admired it so much that he composed an imitation—The Vanity of Human Wishes.

Missing the point is a besetting error for us poor mortals. The Greek word for it seems to be astochia.

 The purpose of being a teacher, or doctor, or nurse, is clear enough. These are professions, even if, just occasionally, their practitioners can meander from the path.

Management, however, is not a profession. Since the late 20th century, you can study Management even at some universities, and gain a degree in it. But once people begin to think that it is a free-standing and self-validating discipline—one that can be learnt in isolation and have its principles applied indiscriminately to any kind of institution, whether public or commercial, industrial or professional, then trouble ensues, as recent history has shown.

So what of schools and colleges? Well, if they are to have a group of people called the management—and that word was not heard in such institutions even 30 years ago—then their function must be to enable the teaching staff, who are the institution, to perform their duties more efficiently, conveniently, and comfortably: to free them from distractions, and to arrange routines and logistics that help them as far as possible.

Their function does not include such things as

  • ordering the staff to use the latest gimmicks and gizmos;
  • getting them to attend talks by wandering charlatans on how to teach;
  • trying to stop them writing truthful reports on their pupils;
  • expecting them to use teaching methods that do not work with their subject;
  • trying to impose a uniform marking system and calling it assessment;
  • paying for the latest snake oil with money that should be spent on books and other resources;
  • expecting the staff to spend time on paperwork or digital response that is of no value to their teaching.
  • etc.

If ‘the management’ have a function in a school or college, it is to give the teaching staff unfailing support without interference, and to use foresight and perception to see that nothing hinders their profession—so far as they can manage.