Tuesday 9 February 2016

Dead cat in the classroom

A Rode dead cat
I first came across 'dead cats' on the end of a microphone.  And then following the last recession we started to hear about a 'dead cat bounce' - a lot more catchy than the double-dip recessions of the seventies.  Now dead cats are back with us thanks to David Cameron & Boris Johnson's 'Dead Cat Strategy':
"The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout 'Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!'; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief." (Boris Johnson talking about his friend Lynton Crosby)
So is there a similar phenomena in the classroom?  It'd be nice to think there is, if only to make good use of a currently popular simile.

In Birmingham we have our 'dead horse' or 'trojan hoax' - although some insist the original letter was not a hoax, following four separate enquiries into 21 schools no evidence that anyone caught up in the 'Trojan horse row' has acted illegally. In fact, there's not much evidence of anything. The Kerslake report instigated following 'Operation Trojan Horse' led ultimately to Sir Albert Bore, Council leader, forced to resign and the Council itself under threat of being broken up.

But that's in education, or politics, and not in the classroom.  Here's my 'dead cat':
'An attempt by a student to distract the teacher by encouraging the teacher to talk at length on a different topic.'
When I was at school, there was a period of time when this was something of an artform.  First you needed to know your teacher's weakspots - a penchant for rock climbing, or baroque music.  And then you had to use an opportunity to ask a question to introduce the subject, flatter the teacher and encourage them to talk.  It's only since then I realise the teachers were probably complicit in the 'dead cat strategy'   I hope dead cats (and not horses) are still being thrown at teachers.

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