Four Things I Learned About Education Working With The Army

General Education

A few years ago I had the privilege of working with members of the NZ Army and NZ Defence Forces education team. It was lots of fun being on base and I learned a bunch of things that have really stuck with me over time.

I’m generalising here, so you’ll have to allow me a bit of poetic licence…

1. Working in education is a bit like being in the Army

These days, there’s really only troops and generals. The troops on the ground are the educators on the front lines of foundation education. The generals are the owners, managers, bureaucrats, policy wonks and others involved in the business of education.


2. You’re probably in the troops

Most of us aren’t generals. And the generals know who they are. In fact, if you’re not one of the generals then you have to be in the troops by default.

There are reasons for that. One is that the middle is being sliced out. This is happening in every big bureaucracy. Middle means middle management. Whether it also means middle class is something we’ll find out over the next 10 years. There are implications for this, both good and bad.

Whatever the reason, being in the troops helps explain why it feels (at least sometimes) that you’re on the front lines of a battle.

Middle Management

3. Deadwood gets cut

One implication of all this is that because the middle is being (has been) carved out there aren’t very many options left for you. This means that you can’t afford to be deadwood. If you are, you’ll be cut out. Actually, even if you aren’t they might still cut you out. Which brings me to the last thing…


4. If you want to be employable, you must be deployable

Nothing is guaranteed, but this one should be self explanatory by now. If they (the generals) can deploy you… then you’ve got a job. But the landscape will be different. You might be sent to new places. And you’ll need new strategies AND new tools to fight the good fight.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Graeme,
    Excellent post and very true to the point, middle management can be a dangerous place if you don’€™t keep adding to your tools.
    The army can be a lot of fun.

    Alistair Penrose

    1. Hi Alistair…! Hey, thanks for posting and yes I agree: the army can be a lot of fun! You’re certainly proving that. Keep up the great work my friend.

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