Sign of the times

Schools seem to have been captured by the advertising and marketing bug. The best evidence of this is the proliferation of signs appearing at the gates of schools. They don’t just say welcome, they ‘announce’ things.

Seems in-offensive enough but I saw one today that made me cringe a little – it boldly pronounced that it would be giving ‘survival strategies’ – hardly reassuring for new students. Its one thing to provide support but another to declare to the world that any young person entering your gates might need special skills to navigate such a dangerous environment.

Language constructs experience as well as describing it. Anxiety will take advantage of fear – real or imagined. I understand that this isn’t the intention, but here is the thing – once you have a sign, you have to put things on it! And this is the bit that irks me (love that word ‘irk’).

Schools put some random and tedious things on their flash signs to keep up the appearance of having important stuff going on (isn’t teaching and learning enough???). But I am itching for a school to do something radical and just put one up that says ‘ummmmm just business as usual’ or ‘free education – yeah right’ or ‘practical sex education starts this week … just kidding’ (Monty Python fans might have John Cleese flash into their minds in that cringe making scene from The Meaning Of Life).

I don’t think I’m reading too much into this – its about an awareness of the business model and language infiltrating all aspects of our lives.

But we don’t have to buy it.


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