Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Japan Jacques and his Samurai Legends Temple

Like any of the new 'initiatives' prepared for the start of the academic year, the latest is ill-thought-through, largely pointless and hilariously gimmicky and pretentious. Those of you who still have one can turn to page 9 in your planner to see that, as of this year, Hampstead has adopted a 'Kaizen', which roughly translates from Japanese as 'complete BS'.

Putting aside the fact that the mere notion is bollocks for a second, the school has already failed themselves by getting the 'initiative' wrong. In both the 'brief' welcome by the Head at the start of term (in the second hour of the speech) and the planner, they define 'Kaizen' as "a system for continual progress". Now, this idea is not something the Head picked up in his Gap Yarh in East Asia, he has evidently read a book or something on the internet (but not a blog, never a blog) about improving businesses, because after all that's what we are, and found that 'Kaizen' is a system used first by Japanese manufacturers to get better results from their workers.

The problem arises when you find out that it is not a "system for continual progress", but rather "the practice of continuous improvement". It seems a small difference, but a school can still be making 'progress' even if it is not making 'improvement'. Progress suggests an onward movement towards a destination, such as a fulfillment of someone's GCSE's, or the completion of the school build, but neither mean anything will necessarily improve. Improvement is the function that makes something better; the school building may be completed, but done so poorly. A person may progress towards their GCSE's, but not improve at all over the two years.

The reason why they have chosen 'progress' over 'improvement'? We can only speculate, but it may have something to do with the fact they recently were marked down for their improvement by ALPs (see Trash passim), and as such are no longer improving, so they can't use it in their 'initiative'.

They also have been a bit over-simplified in their approach to the word 'Zen' as well. Whilst they say that Zen equals 'good', and most people know the common definition of Buddist enlightenment, the other dictionary definition is in fact "An approach to an activity, skill, or subject that emphasizes simplicity and intuition rather than conventional thinking or fixation on goals". Hmm, without 'fixation on goals'... doesn't sound like the Head now, does it?

As well as having a pretty sketchy idea of what the system is, the Kaizen Chiefs are now half a term into the year and they still have yet to outline any ways in which they are going to implement continual progress. They have said they have a 'system', but not what it is, how or when they are going to use it. The cynic in me would presume this 'system' is slightly more fictitious than they would like us to think. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time they had done something without consulting the student body first.

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