The C word: The mediocre play their Joker.

No, not that one. This: Consistency.

If you are a manager or a ‘leader’ this is a really useful weapon. Let me explain, if you don’t already use the word liberally. Consistency is the most useful word to deploy if you meet the awkward teacher with an independent tendency, especially if you don’t have a valid argument.

If you look it up you will find most dictionaries provide several meanings and this is the real advantage. One strand will refer to ‘being in agreement with’ or congruent, another to conformity, with the red herring of ‘degree of thickness’, a little ironic really. The word is ambiguous, that is it’s main utility: you can use it to mean conformity (you really mean uniformity) when it can seem that you want practice inline with policy, a slightly broader brush. This will encourage the difficult ones to think that they can do something similar to what you want, something that they can support, when what you are pushing is that they will do as they are told even if they think it is idiotic. With even more irony, it’s etymology is via Latin : consistentem from consistere – to stand firm, but usage changed in the 18th century to be similar to today.

The best bit is that although it is obviously value neutral teachers are pre-programmed to see it as a good thing. This is not merely because we all like to conform but is due to their diplomatic tendencies when providing feedback to pupils and parents; instead of saying that effort, behaviour or work is often poor, they will say that it needs to be more consistent. They don’t mean consistently poor! Thus they subconsciously predispose to believe that consistency is a good thing in and of itself.

When you use it, reinforce with those semi-redundant NLP tricks. Plenty of head nodding whilst seeking eye-contact will encourage mirroring further developing unthinking agreement. Smile when holding eye-contact and scatter the word into every sentence. It is really hard for the dissenters to argue against, what do they want? Anarchy? Chaos? Confusion and disorder? They probably won’t challenge ‘the need for consistency’ even if they disagree with the policy or practise. If they do, they will be marginalised by arguing against consistency, an uncomfortable notion to most teachers.

The most perfect opportunity to play this “joker” is when you have no evidence for the efficacy of your prejudice, such as the colour of pens in your triple marking policy; why should you use a particular colour at a particular stage? consistency! Why should the teacher colour code the pupil groups in their lesson plans with your rainbow scheme? Why add the words “that is strike one” to a reprimand when everyone knows it is? Why use the same lesson planning form with identical lesson structures? Oh yes I have seen the word used most effectively with these and many more.

You can even misuse it and still get what you want: talk about more consistency IN lessons. People won’t think that you are referring to their turgidity as they unkindly do to your CPD, they will think you mean between lessons, which you probably do.

The most disaffected may view your reliance on this gimmick in lieu of argument or evidence as a sign of your mediocrity or worse but don’t worry, you’ve got the herd, you can rely on your fellow leaders to close down dissent and in any case you will be able to find some news items or articles by vested interest unqualified enthusiasts to provide a flimsy buttress to your arbitrary initiative.

Meanwhile, I will be thinking the other C word: the ‘Anglo Saxon’ derived colloquialism. But then I am rude.


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