Doing good vs. Looking good

‘Doing good’ is not just doing your job well, it’s going beyond your remit to do something well. For example, helping out a student with their busted laptop even though it doesn’t belong to the school. It’s not my job to fix it, but a broken laptop impacts their learning, so if I have the time and the student asks nicely, I’ll spend some time helping them to fix it. It doesn’t impact my normal work, and the student gets to learn something new.

‘Looking good’ is doing something beyond your job that gets you noticed, because you’re visibly making an effort to go beyond your normal remit. This may of course be an inevitable consequence of doing good; very occasionally when I help out a student I’ll be thanked by the parent, or a teacher who has been desperate for the student to produce some work that is sequestered on their crippled machine.

It’s entirely possible to do both of these things, but if you’re going to pick only one, it should really be the first one.

A short time ago I attended a meeting where a lot of new ideas were floated that go beyond the normal remit of the people proposing them. The goals of these ideas are noble, as they will further the learning of our students. However, this is going on while there are fundamental flaws in the way these people are doing their normal jobs, and learning is suffering as a result. They don’t seem to care, however, because exams are still being passed and fixing the existing problems are hard, while doing something new and noticeable is relatively easy.

I’m all for ‘doing good’. However, I won’t sit by and ignore an existing problem in order to pursue the things that will get me noticed. It annoys me when that behaviour is rewarded, but it’s become abundantly clear that in my school, looking good is far more important than doing good.

This makes AngryTechnician angry.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.
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