Badababing! Mafia managers

20th October 2006 at 01:00
Sadly, old-style lecturers - the kind that wore corduroy trousers and Bob Marley T-shirts and camp outside US air bases singing Give Peace a Chance - are pretty thin on the ground these days.

The best place to spot an unspoilt genuine example of these rare but beautiful creatures is the annual conferences of the University and College Union - formerly Natfhe - where they huddle together like penguins sheltering against the cold wind of change which has been blasting through further education.

I'm afraid to say, though, that, however close they huddle, the penguins might have trouble surviving the latest threat - management with guns.

A series of slides from a management presentation given at Oaklands College, which has found its way into FErret's clutches, makes startling reading.

It starts innocuously enough with the kind of education gobbledygook we have become used to: "It's not about eLearning driving pedagogy, it's about pedagogy driving eLearning."

The next page is rather more sinister, though. It is illustrated with a picture of a dog being shot in the mouth by a man in a suit, with the caption: "Have we killed the neo-Luddites?"

The page is titled: "Shoot the Puppy", normally the kind of phrase management speakers reserve for the pub or when they're trying to sound macho when using the mobile on the train.

"We've done the hard bit," it goes on to say. "The hard bit", apparently, consisting of "muppet shuffling", "decruitment" (geddit?) and "resource optimization".

It goes on the ask big question: "Is this nanostalgia?". The answer, apparently, is "no" - although I'm not quite sure what the question is.

Presumably something about whether we are fond of very small things.

It then goes on to talk about the "ketchup bottle effect" - presumably referring to the idea that if you hold people upside down and hit them hard enough you might get what you want out of them.

I really don't know how to advise you if you feel in anyway nervous about all this management speak but there's probably a few steps you could take to survive the purge against the puppies and the neo-Luddites (the latter surely being a contradiction in terms).

My recommendation would be that you get a copy of one of the tomes on FErret's bookshelf: Why do Business People Speak like Idiots: A bullfighter's guide.

It's a subject which applies as much to education these days as it does to business - and your bosses might get the hint when they get the expenses claim.

Oh, and if you know any muppets in the staff room, for goodness' sake tell them to keep their heads down.

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