Diagnosing 2.0 flatulence: the case of ‘N.G.’

Do you – or someone you know – think you might be suffering from Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence? Here’s how to tell. Let’s take the case of a hypothetical patient, ‘N.G’, who first came to our attention a few years ago.

First of all (and be honest) do you think you are always inevitably right and that your opponents are always, inevitably and completely wrong and that everything that came before you is bad and useless and needs to be destroyed in order to be replaced by what you think? Just because it is ‘what you think’? If you can answer yes to this question, even tentatively, do read on because you are clearly afflicted by 2.0 logic and so Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence is a possible diagnosis.

Second, do you believe that entities called ‘teacher colleges’ still exist? This is perhaps one of the most telling, delusional symptoms. Independent teacher training colleges disappeared following the reforms of the mid-1970s and then the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act eventually gave the remaining few university status. Believing that these separate sub-standard entities are real is a symptom of both post-factual Trumpish-Goveian Syndrome as well as 2.0 flatulence; it is becoming clear that these conditions can co-exist in the same case. One of the clinical signs of the co-presence of these conditions is a bizarre orange colouring of the face. (There is one important caveat here, for future clinical reference, that I will come to at the end.)

Third, do you believe that in these non-existent institutions, the curriculum is composed of ‘learning styles’ and injunctions ‘not to talk for more than 20% of the time’? As characteristic of 2.0 flatulence as this utterance is, it is also suggestive of memory loss so political dementia should also be a consideration for diagnosticians: it was a previous government’s National Strategies that wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on folders and overhead transparencies about learning styles and various other nonsensical fads. Hard-working, highly-experienced teacher educators like the estimable Shirley Franklin were robustly debunking such nonsense over ten years ago and also finding imaginative ways of secretly dumping the unwanted Strategy folders into the skips that lurk around the edges of university campuses. (Click here for a link to Shirley Franklin’s article). (I personally dumped two pallets of KS3 English materials into a skip outside the University Parks in Oxford and hurt my back getting them in there so there is also a physiological and mechanical dimension to these questions).

Fourth, do you feel that while others are guilty of ‘fuzzy ideology’, you are a paragon of research and evidence-informed policy? Does this feeling come up on you unexpectedly, perhaps at inopportune moments? Have you been embarrassed socially when suddenly emitting this view, sometimes with surprising force? Have you blamed these views on the dog, another pet or an elderly relative? Do you sometimes fear that what you are emitting will actually have substance and lead to a trip to the dry cleaners but are pleasantly relieved when it just turns out to be warm air? If yes, the signs are clear: it is 2.0 flatulence.

Finally, do you sometimes generalise from single cases? So, for example, someone shows you a document from one PGCE student’s folder that has ‘VAK’ on it and you feel an irresistible urge to let rip that all university education departments are terrible and should be closed down, shouting that ‘they have failed generations of children … it is a national disgrace.. oh god my stomach hurts…where’s the benevolent tsunami of Gaviscon’? Or, occasionally, is there such a build-up of abdominal pressure that you just have to release it and blurt out something that simply isn’t true? National comparisons are a good medium for this sort of gas and it can be a good idea to pick on a country that most people assume does quite well. Sweden is a popular choice, as in this recent example.

If you can answer yes to these questions, then it is highly likely you are suffering from Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence. And the good news is that it is a highly treatable condition. Most doctors now recommend increasing your intake of fibre – which in terms of Teacher Quality 2.0 means evidence, robust research and a knowledge-rich substantiation strategy for your arguments. There are proprietary solutions available (‘Brain Flakes’ is a popular brand) but all that increasing your fibre intake means for Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence sufferers is changing your diet to a knowledge-rich one.

Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence sufferers do not necessarily also suffer from Trumpish-Goveian Syndrome, which is characterised by the impulse to say something you think is funny or because it sounds good or just because you can with the aim of ‘shaking things up a bit’. Through a tweet. Or a headline. Trumpish-Goveian Syndrome is nonetheless a genuine health risk for those who style themselves as ‘reformers’ (hence its colloquial description, ‘Orange Disruptive Reformer Tourettes’ or ODRT).

And the caveat I mentioned earlier: there are currently no ‘teacher colleges’ or ‘teacher training colleges’ in England. But there might be soon if the HE Bill passes and we end up with our own crop of independent graduate schools of education on the US model. Freed from the anchoring effects of real universities’ public service commitments to research, scholarship and the interrogation of evidence, it is  likely that the new ‘phoney GSEs’ (as they have been described in the US) will be characterised by the kind of fuzzy ideology and commitment to fads that concern the sufferers of Teacher Quality 2.0  flatulence. Our hypothetical case ‘N.G’ might like that sort of fuzzy ideology and prefer indoctrination by those kinds of fads but it will take more than a couple of litres of Simethicone to ensure that the integrity of the teaching profession isn’t damaged by the invention of the kind of institution he is criticising.

Don’t worry unduly for sufferers of Teacher Quality 2.0 flatulence, though. They can go on to live perfectly happy lives and often get invited to do opening keynotes at ‘grassroots’, ‘teacher-led’ conferences with fellow sufferers and those afflicted with ODRT.

The future is bright; and the future is neither orange nor flatulent.