What gets measured gets managed.

During my studies for an MPhil a few years ago the one area we ‘studied’ that I struggled with (apart from good old statistics, as usual) was centred on something called ‘impact’. This impact stuff is an attempt to measure the impact of research; it’s academic impact, economic and societal impact and it has grand claims to measure the following:

  • Instrumental: influencing the development of policy, practice or service provision, shaping legislation, altering behaviour
  • Conceptual: contributing to the understanding of policy issues, reframing debates
  • Capacity building: through technical and personal skill development.

from http://www.esrc.ac.uk/research/impact-toolkit/what-is-impact/

I’m afraid I didn’t approach this area of my studies with an open, scientific mind. Right from the start with a lecture from a high up in Southampton University’s academic hierarchy I was immediately thinking of how all this impact measuring might unleash those old unintended consequences. But my main objection was that having to somehow prove what an excellent impact your research will have (or has had) causes scientists to devote time to stuff other than their research. An anonymous academic writes: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/feb/16/performance-driven-culture-is-ruining-scientific-research

They too think like I do. Sad they have to write anonymously, says lots about the current culture.

During that initial lecture from the highly accoladed academic I asked the simple question “how can you measure the impact of research before it’s possible potentials have been properly explored or applied?” I was dismissed with disdain, only the true impact believers and adherents would progress to become initiates.

My impact assignment scraped a pass mark.

I came across the phrase for the title of this blog in the comments after the article, I’m sure it’s a common adage but was new to me and sums up much of modern management. And certainly much of what passes as current education.

Anyway, must away to do my unctuous metrics.

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Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

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Grammar schools are shit.

Off for my 3 monthly check up yesterday and despite all the adverse publicity about our beloved health service I was seem almost straight away. A new doctor, who was one of the slickest with the camera down the nose, gave me the all clear and now I’m up to 4 monthly check ups. I also slept soundly the night before, testament to Alan the acupuncturist.

Want to fail in life? Then boost your chances significantly by being a child of poorer parents in Buckinghamshire. I’ve written about it many times but coming across a fulsome study by Nuala Burgess comparing and contrasting the education systems in the neighbouring, tory run, counties of Buckinghamshire and Hampshire: Tale-of-Two-Counties confirms my belief of the absolute crapness of selective education and of the 11+ and grammar schools in particular. I very much doubt any perusers of the blog will read the whole study, I’ve yet to finish, but even I was shocked and extremely saddened by new information. Nuala nicely combines quantitative and qualitative stuff, some of the personal testimonies being really powerful. In the educational, social and cultural backwater of Buckinghamshire parents and their progeny are exposed to an indefensible system on all levels except that of preserving class and privilege. Passing the 11+ is almost entirely predicated by how wealthy parents are and being able to afford private tutors to get their children to pass the test. They even have a grading system for the tutors and guess what? The higher they’re rated the more expensive they are. Not only are children subjected to evening and weekend cramming they’re sent off to be crammed in the holidays as well.

And so after all this cramming and pressure what effects might one expect?

“She was so
upset when she opened the
envelope ….and then girls that
used to be her friends, who’d
passed, started to form their
own group in the playground.
They lost interest in her. It was
awful…there were two distinct
groups in the playground: the
kids who’d passed and the ones who’d
failed…. and only 20 out of the 60 children
who took the test passed it. ”

Brilliant for social cohesion eh? But all is well as dominic grieve, tt mp for Beaconsfield, who supports expanfuckingspansion of the grammar school system as it “allows every child to go to a good school”……………………………

“A child living in Beaconsfield,
a town in his own constituency,
who fails the 11+,
has no chance of going to a
school rated as ‘Good’. All
three secondary moderns in
Beaconsfield have been rated
‘requires improvement’. They
are all in his constituency, and
yet he is capable of saying
the expansion of grammar
schools is a good policy
because it allows very child to
go to a good school! ”

Can’t even put it down to cognitive dissonance, it’s pure, lying propaganda. And then they have the sheer affrontery to insist that the ‘secondary moderns’ that the failures of the 11+ go to are called ‘comprehensives’, really is worthy of newspeak.

And you slip over the border to Hampshire, a totally comprehensive state system (there’s still the crapulous private schools) and it’s like a different country. Eric MacFarlane was head of a grammar school in Basingstoke, he became head of a comprehensive school when the county converted, he saw the light:

“Some of the grammar schools in those
days were arid institutions, over-occupied
with exam results, competition,
grooming and elites … all the stuff that
makes us mad. ”

This is what still happens with grammar school systems in counties like Buckinghamshire and Kent.

Think I’ll go to the annual old boys dinner at my old grammar school, Maidstone in Kent. Dress code is jacket and tie, chuckle, chuckle.

Image result for anti grammar schools cartoon

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

 

Cambian and other organisations are failing, what can we do?

So I’m perusing the worldwide web and come across something I’ve seen before called Glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/index.htm a website that is a jobs and recruiting site. An algorithm has guided me to this site and to stuff about cambian in particular. I’m intrigued and want to read what others have written about cambian and as is the way with many such sites now you need to sign up with them to gain access. In this case I have to reveal some details about myself as well as pros and cons about the company plus advice for the management, predictably I can’t resist.

So, after unloading my heart felt opinions about the beloved cambian (they score 2.4/5, a rather generous score I feel) I read through what others have written. Themes soon emerge with workers pro about working with mutually supportive staff and working with students/clients. The cons of the failings of management, both senior management within institutions and at board level.

Now I am firmly of the opinion that for any organisation the lead is provided by the leaders, tautology eh? Therefore if there is disgruntlement amongst the lower ranks (that is anyone below ceo level) then it comes from the ‘top’. It is the philosophies and practice of leaders that are ultimately responsible. If, for example, they have an autocratic style (my way or the highway) then it feeds down through the organisation and distorts relationships through workers relative levels of power. From this there is likely to be increasing discontent as one descends the ranks and a direct correlation between job satisfaction and power over one’s job conditions. Some evidence for this can be read in the many comments about cambian on Glassdoor.

A common defence very senior managers might use is that of the ‘few bad apples’ within an organisation, those who operate independently for their own nefarious ends. Well this is a poor defence as any organisational systems overseeing ‘performance’ are clearly inadequate. Oxfam tried this line early on and it is rapidly unravelling.

One could go on about the failings of management, but it is relatively easy to have a go at others, less easy to provide constructive answers, just witness the ‘hardline’ brexiters.

I think that over the years of my teaching career I developed basic philosophies and practice that worked increasingly well within my own little classroom world. I would argue that this was despite senior management, although they would often leave me alone; “he’s a maverick but he gets results” was one comment made about me. Now whilst this boosted my little ego, further cogitation saddened me as there seemed no systems or more senior interest in investigating this phenomena. No ‘spreading of good practice’, no reflectiveness, no creative exploitation; sad.

But it did increasingly confirm my belief that the best workers are often those who have the most control and power over their work. Our quasi-religious belief in hierarchical structures, from the royal family, through our class system and into almost all our organisations is bollocks.

And yet it can change and I read of a brilliant example today:

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2018/feb/12/change-councils-beat-austerity-demoralised

“But rather than managers imposing new performance targets, Rutland tried something different. Staff were asked to identify a few core problems and focus on them. Teams of staff with different skills were then formed to come up with alternative ways of resolving the issues. Senior managers didn’t have to sign anything off: their role was to help teams overcome any barriers getting in the way of what staff wanted to achieve.

The result has been striking. Over two years, the team saw an 85% reduction in delays moving patients into social care and a 77% fall in the number of people entering permanent care. There has also been a significant boost to staff morale and a fall in vacancies.”

Startling results eh?

And I would wager that if all organisations started working this way there would be similar results and many other benefits: less abuse, less work-related absenteeism, less pressure on health and social services, less high staff turnover, ….. add your own here.

And do you know what? Financial profits would increase too.

agile-management-30-holacracywhat-next-4-638 (1)

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

 

 

Cheesy wotsits.

What is the world coming to, as a youngster I had to come to terms with the propaganda that I was descended from apes and now that I have more recent cheesy relatives who were dark skinned. I’ll have no truckle with this. It is our inalienable english right to keep reproducing our own fictions and perpetrating our white male power over all living things as it states very clearly in the good book: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

Right now the european research group is desperately attempting to keep things right and is cloning rees mogg as fast as it can. rees mogg has also refuted this latest so-called research and stated that it is of a piece with EU biased propaganda and that alternative research clearly showing our ancient relatives wearing round spectacles and looking like an eton educated victorian gentleman is being suppressed.

Also a story that cheddar man was under the thumb of wensleydale woman is complete fabrication.

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Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

 

Freedom or death.

It has been very refreshing listening to the toady show today, so much so that I might have to start calling it the today show, as it was an all women show celebrating the centenary of women getting the vote. Although it was not all women as only those owning property and over the age of 30 were allowed the vote. Dear old class, as ever, dominated and the lower classes and younger women weren’t deemed able enough to have such responsibility.

And so class still exerts it’s egregious drag on society as does treatment of the younger folk as discussion of giving 16 year olds the vote demonstrates. Listening to the wireless about this there was a superb comment by a 14 year old who carefully explained how she and some of her friends were interested in and understood a great deal of politics but that many of her peers were either uninterested or too stupid to understand. She went on to say that it was pretty similar with adults with many uninterested or too stupid to understand politics and yet they are unquestioningly allowed to vote, so 16 year olds should be given the vote. Unerring logic.

Doesn’t need much thought to apply her beautifully simple logic to voting patterns and results.

And one wonders how jacob rees-mogg would have voted in 1918? The caricature he has created combines class, right-wing paternal politics and paternal religiosity and would not look out of place in a pre-1918 British parliament. This ‘hard brexiter’, compensates his limp handshake, is currently chairMAN of the ill named ‘european research group’, ill named because of it’s implied academic status using the term research. Created in 1993 it’s sole purpose is to support tory mps with their programme to leave the EU. Unlike the ‘sinister, hard left’ oft-derided Momentum it has no website, publishes nothing, certainly nothing resembling research. It operates way more as a ‘party within a party’ than Momentum; it tells it’s members what to say (and not say), co-ordinates attacks on Remain leaning tories and institutions that report on the effects of brexit such as the treasury. The Times described it as “the most aggressive and successful political cadre in Britain today”. And with mogg as it’s cheerleader in chief baldly stating that any statement that brexit might lead to anything other than a glorious return of Britain to all it’s former world empire status as perfidious lies.

And on a day celebrating female suffrage I salute Anna Soubry for her asking maybot to ‘sling out’ de pfeffel and mogg as they are unrepresentative of the conservative party she joined.

Last words with Emmeline Pankhurst:

“Now, I want to say to you who think women cannot succeed, we have brought the government of England to this position, that it has to face this alternative: either women are to be killed or women are to have the vote.”

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Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Life and death.

I am still amazed even in my seventh decade of existence by how simple things can be so rewarding. In our continuing attempts to give Kate nighttime rest we have recently bought a new mattress and now we lie much higher, with my deteriorating physical state I’ll soon need a stepladder to get into bed. Anyway, our bedside tables were now much lower for us so we’ve got higher ones and they have drawers unlike our old ones. Now I have 3 extra drawers and so have individual ones for socks and underwear and not one big one with all my clothing accessories jumbled together. It is so satisfying just opening one drawer to get my socks instead of rummaging for hours and continually rearranging socks, underwear, never worn ties, braces, swimwear, cravats, silk scarves, never to be worn again sports socks and a jockstrap.

And another simple thing I’ve just promised myself is that I’m going to ignore drumf, maybe if we all did that he’d just disappear. So this is the last time I’ll mention him until allowing myself a small smile when he’s gone.

Thinking of never to be worn again sportswear it’s a melancholic thought to wonder about the last time we ever do things. My rugby playing days are long behind me yet I still regularly recall incidents in games and relive stuff in my brainbox. I almost achieved playing a game of rugby knowing it would be my last. Many years ago my good friend Juan and a team mate Howard drove to Newbury to play against Newbury second team for Esher Cardinals (the Esher second team). It was one of those cold, dank wintry days and we were losing in the second half, I thought I’d turn things around and attempted a break only to be tackled hard. I was a little bruised and normally would have been straight back on my feet to continue my scrum halfly duties, but not this time. I just lay on the cold, muddy pitch thinking that it was relatively comfortable and watched play unfold elsewhere. In that moment I thought time to finish this rugby playing lark.

I only told Juan that the next game would be my last. The Thursday evening training session I knew would be my last so I took in as much as I could, living every moment actually knowing it would be my last. Training finished with a ‘game’ between the first and second teams and was halted when the aforementioned Howard collapsed. Under the floodlights a small group of people were around him, someone applied CPR, an ambulance was called for and the rest of us looked on in shocked silence. Howard died on the pitch. The following Saturday games were cancelled. I never got to play my last game as I’d planned.

Thank you Fractalview for sharing your cambian stuff, I love your fish and chips story about British values.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Time to disable the disablers and enable the enablers.

wrexit is not the only driving force behind our fracturing country, as I often suggest the class system provides the systemic backdrop over which the tt’s austerity bollocks and the demonisation of the welfare state and benefit fraud allows petty human nastiness to ooze out like pus from a boil. A recent report showed that 300,000 people had reported their fellow earthly inhabitants over the past 2 years for benefit fraud. Of these approximately none led to any prosecution. What does this say?

We often boast about our british values, and a frequently quoted value is our tolerance and acceptance of others. Yet shit like the above suggests otherwise.

And yet there is something more positive astirring; the rising up of women against abusive patriarchal power a good example. Carrie Grace’s powerful testimony against the BBC. Madison Marriage’s reporting on the president’s club. One hope’s that there will be a continuing exposure of abuse and inequality and a general swing against the shit perpetrated by the powerful. But it can only happen if people work and play together.

And Silent Witness did it’s bit in this week’s story. Disabled people were at the forefront and the programme threw in pretty much every form of abuse into the mix producing a brilliantly dramatic expose. It would be great if Liz Carr got proper recognition for her performance. Penny Pepper was really moved by the programme:

“And so barriers remain in place, disabling us, and denying our full participation in the everyday. The current government wallows in an ideology that crushes us with cuts to social care, to services – and to disabled arts organisations. Immediately after Silent Witness, Ellen Clifford, of Disabled People Against Cuts, was on Newsnight, pointing out that “the United Nations made a finding of grave and systemic violations towards disabled people”.”

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Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.