Could you sum up your education horror story in two words?
It seems plenty of people can, judging by the flood of responses to a tweet asking just that question – and it's impressive how evocative, amusing and downright mysterious these most succinct of tales can be.
Ewan McIntosh, the founder of an international education and skills development company and a former languages teacher in Scotland, was behind the tweet and saw the replies pour in after he posted it yesterday.
What are your educational TWO WORD HORROR STORIES? Shoot!— Ewan McIntosh (@ewanmcintosh) January 14, 2021
Well over 100,000 people have viewed the thread and, at the last count, there were more than 700 two-word stories, encompassing a mind-boggling gamut of tales of woe.
These tales are topical (would “on mute” have have anything like the same resonance before Covid?), political (certain education ministers’ names denote all manner of plotlines of bumbling incompetence) and entomological (wasps feature repeatedly).
There is also a surfeit of tales with a certain scatological emphasis. From memories of “wee accidents” (an adjective that, in Scotland, serves to describe the nature of the accident but also to reflect ironically on the scale of it) to the blunter “it’s floating”, these are perhaps the most vivid of all.
When Tes asked Mr McIntosh for his most memorable responses, he said: “‘Walking meeting’ is one that transfers from my previous life in a classroom to my new life working with principals and heads. It always means I’m about to be given crushing feedback framed as a ‘gentle reminder’.
“‘Quick word’ still leads to involuntary spasms in my punching arm.”
But his favourite response of all cheated slightly with a little extra parenthetical exposition: “She’s dead! (I’d fainted)”.
What else featured? Here is a selection of the most memorable two-word education horror stories:
- Parental complaint
- Wrong PowerPoint
- Gavin Williamson
- Role play
- Nativity rehearsal
- Photocopier’s down