Thursday, 17 March 2016

Teach Like A Champions League Telesales Rep

"Hello / Good morning / afternoon / evening,
"I'm calling on behalf of the Humanities Department because you're eligible for a special offer. We've teamed up with Pearson UK to bring you the best in History education, free to you for the next 38 weeks. This curriculum will teach you everything you need to know to pass the GCSE exam, and reassure your loved ones that your future is secure. Would you like to take advantage of this special offer?"
"I'm not interested."
"I understand, and that's why this curriculum is free to you for the next 38 weeks. You can receive the content for free and decide in your own time whether it is suitable for you and your family. There's no obligation, and if you decide it isn't, we have a variety of other products to support you through your exams."
"Look mate, I'm not interested."
"I sympathise with that, and that's why we have a variety of other products to suit your needs. You may consider Saturday interventions, holiday workshops, or internal isolation. We also offer all of these at no cost to you, because you are such a valued customer.
Complete call. Select option.
1. Call again.
2. Letter home.
3. Issue detention.
4. Invite to after-school character lessons.
5. Invite to Saturday/holiday interventions.
I value the skills I developed when I worked in telesales: using my voice as a persuasive tool, connecting with people through and despite the script, resilience in the face of a constant managerialism, solving the Telegraph's cryptic crossword hidden under my keyboard in between and during calls.

I lie. It was a soul-crushing experience, and what I actually learned was to game a system. There was no skill I used I didn't already possess and couldn't have honed elsewhere for a more worthwhile cause. I urge you to remember that whenever you get such a call. There's a human being there in what I can only describe as battery farm-like conditions, one whose ability to afford any joy in life is to secure a place in the Champions League for this month's performance-related pay at the expense of one of his colleagues.

Consider that human being, and perhaps also consider how many steps away you are from your own work resembling those conditions, how many have left because it already felt too much like that for them.

A tipping point is on the way. Or perhaps another swing of the pendulum.

On one side, there is the possibility that teaching could be reduced to a minimum-wage job, one you do for a couple of years after uni to pay the bills, and seldom longer, in which the only option for progression is to become one of the managers. A job reading a script, being judged on whether you strayed from it and whether you communicated it with enough tone. One in which your earnings are at the expense of someone else's.

On the other, there is the possibility of a true profession.

No matter which way the pendulum swings, the opposite is constantly pulling us back. I wish for the ride to stop. Let's move the pivot once and for all, and give the weight a rest over a new equilibrium point. Stop the pendulum. Get me out of the pits.

My hunch is that where that new equilibrium point ends up will be determined by who takes the initiative to move the pivot.

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