Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who's teaching your kids?

The answer to that question may very easily be: nobody.
Surprised? You shouldn't be. It's been like this for approaching two years and is, I think, nothing short of a scandal and one that nobody seems to be aware of.
The rules changed under the last government. If there is an absence in teaching staff of less than two weeks, schools are no longer obliged to bring in a teacher to cover. Instead, they can employ what are known as cover supervisors. These do not have to be qualified educationalists - indeed, should a qualified person take on this role, they are under strict instruction not to teach - and are paid slightly above minimum wage. Their role is, basically, to make sure the kids don't kill each other, to do the work set for them with minimal disruption. Crowd control, essentially.
I'm not a parent - not about to be either - but were a child of mine to spend up to two weeks at a time not being taught anything, I'd be absolutely furious. This practise seems to have slipped under the radar. I only know about it as my significant other earns a wage as a supply teacher and her opportunities to work have been severely reduced as a result. Yes, this means I have a vested interest, but it's not that which riles me so. I think we're letting down an entire generation by allowing this to continue and that's way more important than what brand of food our cat gets this week.
So, parents. Find out how much time the pupils at your child's school spend being supervised rather than taught. Kick up a fuss. And let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ProGlide Challenge

Why does everything have to be a mission or a challenge in modern television advertising? Gillette are the current focus of my ire for their Fusion ProGlide challenge in which a bunch of blokes jump out of the back of a van and storm the changing rooms in a gym. This is already suspicious enough.

In there, three hapless stooges are shaving. Now, as anyone who knows me will attest, I'm not familiar with the inner workings of a gymnasium, but is shaving in the changing rooms that common? I suspect not, but would welcome insight from someone better informed. These shavers all seem to have dull blades, complaining as they do about the never-before-mentioned phenomenon of 'tug and pull'. Needless to say, adopting the new mega-blade razor solves this problem and all is well with the world.
But no. What those blokes are experiencing is a blunt razor. Put a new blade in and you'll be sorted boys. Or, if you're using disposables, lob it and get a fresh one out. You don't need five blades and an aloe vera moisturising strip. If your face is wet and you've got soap on it, it will neither tug nor pull unless you're trying to shave whilst wearing boxing gloves. And you don't need some weirdo and his mates bursting out of the back of a van to tell you that.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Never wrong

I have worked out the right's tactics, both here in Blighty and in the States. Probably elsewhere too, but we don't get to hear too much about that here.

Anyway, in attempting to never be wrong, they simply contradict themselves at every turn. 250 vote defeat in the Commons? Claim it as a win. Virulently anti-abortion? Claim you're pro-choice. Not got the support of any major medical union for your reforms of the NHS? Claim that you do with enough bluster as to make it sound believable. Free-marketeer? Claim welfare is a Ponzi scheme.

And on it goes.
The coalition government in the UK and the Republicans in the US are both masters of this, presumably on the basis that once it's written about, it can't be unwritten no matter how many contradictions are subsequently published. It's a cynical and depressing tactic and that's why it has a greater than 60% chance of working.