Abundance: It still seems to be working. And the opposite too. Last week I was at an educational conference, in my role as a school governor. It was all Heads and Chairs of Governing Bodies. more One of the main topics of conversation was the new OFSTED inspection framework – what the government agency that inspects schools uses as its criteria of effectiveness. The story being told was that it was a harsh new regime, and that its consequences would be to drive down the morale of Teachers and Heads. This would adversely impact their performance, which would drive down standards. The very regime designed to push up quality in teaching and learning will do the opposite. It’s not hard to believe.
This is because this drive for change in education is based on a mindset of deficit: the government suggest that standards are too low. So what is needed is a concerted drive to push up performance, using the carrot and stick mentality that sells newspapers, wins votes but hardly ever (or never!?) actually delivers results. Where it is seen to deliver results, it is often based on a mythology created by ‘leaders as victors’, and no-one is around who remembers otherwise. The deficit mentality just doesn’t work. Now this isn’t to say that competition and drive don’t work – quite the opposite – they can be really galvanising factors. See Dan Pink’s work, Drive. But the key to this is that people own their performance – the best athletes compete against their own best scores, and defeat the opposition in the process. I found myself saying, at this Conference, that the danger was that we allow ourselves to become fearful, close down and cease to own our achievements, becoming subject to the regime around us, like prisoners who lose the will to live inside the fence. In times of survival, it seems to be those who look inward, and find the resources abundantly within, that get through with their humanity intact.
As ever, what strikes me is that stories are more powerful than ‘facts’ – take public spending for example. In the UK, many argue that the way the government is currently going with its austerity package is ‘worse than under the Thatcher Government of the 1980s’. And yet, a very short hop into the archives will show conclusively, that the 1980s Tory government actually consistently raised public spending, whilst giving the impression that it did the opposite. See this from the FT: http://on.ft.com/y8EGXM Her ability to do this is either a PR disaster or a coup, depending on your point of view, of course. Stories are all about ‘it depends on who is looking.’ With perspectives, as with most else it seems, there are an abundance.