Sometimes people tell me they think that the bullies they encounter in teaching are, to use the phrase my readers do, psychopaths. They speculate about how people with severe personality disorders end up running schools in such numbers. I don’t think that’s what’s really happening here.
I do think that there are no consequences for bullies in teaching. Senior managers can bully staff if they want to, and there is not enough in place to stop it, as well as it being too easy for a lot of the bullying to happen under the radar and off the record.
The issue is, why would senior managers, given this free reign, want to bully?
I think the main reason is that it is easier to get the results you need by bullying than it is by being a good manager using positive methods. You do not need to develop your management techniques as much, which is a difficult thing to do, because you are not actually managing.
Bullying requires much less brain power, much less experience and much less effort. There are not enough hours in a day for one person to fulfil all the requirements of a senior manager’s post, and so bullying is a way of cutting down the workload.
Secondly, if teachers are under a lot of pressure, then senior managers are under more. Pressure comes from the government and simply rolls down the hill, through managers, and to teachers. Managers are treating teachers this way because they are being treated that way themselves.
There is a lot of teacher bashing in the media as well, and senior managers may simply be joining in with the general atmosphere. When everyone else is having a go at teachers, to be the only one not doing so shows weakness.
Also along these lines is that there is a culture of ‘every man for themselves’ in education. So managers are simply bullying before they can be bullied themselves, or defending themselves by attacking first.
It’s not a simple answer, and tackling it will be a case of unravelling the problems one by one. What is your opinion on why managers in education bully so often? Do you agree with the reasons I’ve given? I’d love to hear from you, please comment below.
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