Smart target man

14th November 2003 at 00:00
I have met many beautiful and inspiring people in education but they are as nothing compared to the celestial life-form that recently gave our staff a presentation about Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related (SMART) targets. His teasingly slow, erotic unravelling of this brilliant acronym provided us with a fresh, flimflam-free vision - at last the woolly-cardigan culture of education was facing up to the real world.

It was the most electrically charged event in years, stirring memories of some fabled rock concert of yesteryear. Women were swooning over his well-groomed and neatly-tailored appearance while men drooled over his cool, dextrous manipulation of a laptop computer. The spirit of Jimi Hendrix lived on inside this man.

We knew from the outset that we were present at something rather special.

He began by silently tormenting us for several minutes while loading up his Powerpoint presentation. Then, with a nonchalent flick of a button, there flashed across the screen ahead of us the clever little instruction for us to "Get SMART".

The silent seduction of the audience continued as he slowly removed the jacket of his suit, hung it carefully behind his chair, and tucked in loose flaps of shirt and flesh.

He had his critics, of course. Some folded-arm types at the back believed that SMART did not even work as an acronym, arguing that "achievable" and "realistic" were the same thing really and that the acronym itself was thus an artifice.

In their rather tiresome, backward-looking view, his whole package was no different from the kind of business pseudo-science found on the bookshelves of motorway service stations - the ones positioned alongside paperbacks displaying whip-wielding women dressed in black underwear.

Well, whip-wielding might even be the answer if it helps to bring that negative sort back into line. The initiative does thankfully have some extra lash to it now that teachers' pay bonuses are tied up with a commitment to SMART targets.

No more greyness and ambiguity. No more wishy-washy talk of trying to help children to grow up into "nicer people". An end to all that talk of "caring schools" with "rounded individuals".

Quite simply, if a teacher can't measure his aim and put a precise time limit on it then he should wake up, smell the coffee and think about focusing on his exam results instead.

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