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.
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.