Sunday, May 03, 2009

Expertise and redundant hoppers

click photo to enlarge
During my time as a manager in education I was constantly exhorted to change my practice to more closely follow that of industry, business and commerce. Attempts were made to foist the methods, disciplines, measurements, customer-focused, target-oriented approach on to education with a greater degree of success than I could ultimately stomach. At the time I was subjected to all this I frequently observed that my experience of the services I received from the private sector - from shops, banks, manufacturers, consultants, builders, etc - wasn't noticeably better than that which I received from central or local government, from the health service or from education, and was often much worse. "Why", I asked, "should I adopt systems that give rise to demonstrable mediocrity?" Well, as you can imagine, being one of a few voices against a tidal wave of government-driven change isn't the most comfortable place to be, so I bade adieu to a career that I had enjoyed, for the most part, at the earliest feasible opportunity.

The rest, as they say, is history. When the pinnacle of the private sector - the banks and financial services industries - was found to have expertise with as much substance as candy floss, and the wheels started to come off the economies of the western world, I allowed myself a wry smile. What had happened, I wondered, to those bankers and financial wizards who offered their services as "mentors" to managers in education, and who sought to "sharpen the skills" of those lesser mortals on whom they graciously bequeathed their time and "expertise"? Probably trying to dig themselves out of a deep hole of their own making.

What has this to do with four animal feed hoppers, one of which has fallen over? Not a great deal really. Except I did wonder how someone could imagine that if you stood these four top-heavy, redundant structures in a row, on concrete, in a flat, windy part of the country, without bolting them down as the manufacturer intended, that they would remain standing.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 19mm (38mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On