Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Your Mission?

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Your Mission?

Article excerpt

It all comes back to RoboCop. Educated men and women used to share a cultural lingua franca based on Classics, the Bible and Shakespeare. But in these barren, splintered times, pop culture has displaced these monoliths as the reach-for cultural notes in salon discourse. If you don't believe me, tell me what you think when you read the word Homer.

So, RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven's dystopian uber-copper from the mononymous movie. Our hero, mangled by violence, is rebuilt as half-man, half-machine. And Omni Consumer Products, his heartless corporate masters, have programmed him with three Prime Directives: to uphold the law; to protect the innocent; and to serve the public trust. He's a walking Fury, a modern Nemesis.

When I walk into a school, I want to know what their prime directives are. What do they think they're doing? What are they aiming towards? What do they stand for? What good do they do? The purpose of education is one of the most important debates an educator will have. Is it to produce industry-appropriate cogs? To babysit? To convey the best of what has been learned? To disseminate a cultural inheritance? To help build a human?

What, too, are the core functions of the school? What should they be doing before anything else? What are the non-negotiables in terms of the managerial mission? What is diamond and what is blancmange? What is Gary Barlow and what Jason Orange?

Fans of Ladybird fairy tales will be familiar with the goose that lays the golden eggs. Unsatisfied with mere golden eggs, the farmer rummages in the poor bird's entrails looking for greater treasures, only to find no gold but considerable amounts of dinner. …

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