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It's not all fun and games

It's not all fun and games

Blog entry about capitalist business simulations including football team managing and sharedealing at the Croydonian anarchist's school and sixth form.

Alright so this has been a long time coming, Im truly sorry for the long absence. Its not even been that I have been busy with school, as I really didn’t bother with putting effort into my re sits that much. But here it goes. Another exposé style piece.

At my school, and particularly since around when I was in Year 9, which would be 2008 and 2009, the school started really picking up the amount of business games, simulations and competitions they ran. These games, simulations and competitions would take you off time table for a day and might involve you having to dress up in formal business attire (suits etc). At the time, me and my friends would all bitch about how boring and shit they were, but to be honest, we probably had some fun and just enjoyed the let up from usual lessons they gave us. However, recently a new one has been launched called Pro Share made me realise the real nature of these games. I have been an anarchist for a while now but it didn’t occur to me until the assembly in which Pro Share was launched, and I am quite surprised by this because, especially with the new one called Pro Share, their ideological grounds and motivations are not subtle. They are all for the purposes of capitalist indoctrination. They can appear, as they are meant to, light hearted bur appearances are deceiving

One example comes sometime in February 2011, where some 6 Year 13 students went to the London office of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (aka ICAEW) to take part in a school accounting/finance competition. It was split into 2 halves, one of which involved them doing a so called S.W.O.T (strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats) analysis (yes, the cringey but catchy business acronyms reminiscent of David Tinney, the subject of my first blog, and general managerial types, are running rife) of a business. The latter half consisted of having to adjust the business’ accounts according to the financial impact of decisions they would take in response to different scenarios they were given. This was to all culminate into a 5 minute presentation of their findings. Now, I did not take part and don’t know if these students were chosen or forced to go along to this or not, but my perspective is as follows. This was not just fun games and a bit of an insight into the career of accountancy. This was a dry run for the sick, reckless, dog eat dog competition that business is. I don’t know much about the field but I imagine the responses to the different scenarios would involve squeezing maximum amount of profit out of the business as possible, cutting corners and the ‘red tape’ of health and safety and desperately trying to keep wages as low as possible. That is standard practice of any business. This is like school for capitalists 101, or as I and other anarchists would know it, school as normal under this system. But this was not just a case of playing the game and going home. It seems that schools were pitted against each other and the winners, having been judged probably by people often referred to as “industry experts”, would advance to the next stage in the competition at a later date. As if this was not enough, the students were taken to ask questions to universities and colleges about the field and to be given propaganda, sorry, information, about various accounting institutions. The speeches were likely to be full of a combination of false meritocratic idealism and “survival of the fittest” social Darwinism where un employment and poverty are voluntary phenomena whose sufferers are being treated as deserved. These kinds of beliefs are painfully familiar to me, this is what you are fed at school and through the media.

Another example is the business simulation our school ran for the third time sometime in May 2011 (according to the school newsletter, where I am taking a lot of the information about these events from) called Gold Digger. Gold Digger, rather aptly named, i split the Year 8 students up into groups of 6 to manage a football club for the day with the aim of winning a league and of course, making money. Like I said before, this would seem harmless, what with the subject matter close to many a working class persons heart and the age of the blissfully un aware participants. But when I read of how they were subjected to a microcosm of the segregation of the work force through being put into separate departments within a hierarchy whose elite included the positions of Chairman, Manager and Assistant Manager, I started to read in between the lines to reveal the ideas at work. The fictional football clubs, who they were made to adorn with fictional merchandise, shirts and badges, even received its fictional income from corporate sponsorship! I was left with a sour taste in my mouth at the how these children were being taken advantage of, suckered in by a day off time table and some out of the norm activities, which was really just an elaborate hoax to secretly re enforce divide and rule tactics embodied by the departmentalisation and the field of business in which the students were supposedly given a taste of that day, football itself (football , in my opinion, pits members of the working class against each other , often resulting in racism and crude nationalism).

Ok, sorry about going off on a tangent about football, now it’s time to cover Pro Share. Pro Share is another simulation. They are essentially making all sixth formers get into teams of 3 and invest some hypothetical shares in a maximum of 2 companies currently on the FTSE 100. And I say “making all sixth formers” accurately because it includes the form tutors and it is indeed compulsory. It was launched in an assembly by an old strict, probably staunch Tory business studies teacher. We were given a leaflet that gives us a roster of companies to choose from, which include some hugely rich companies like the oil spillers BP, the poison peddling Diageo, the big pharma GlaxoSmithKline and Tesco whose expansion has been pissing off local activists in various effected communities for forever and a day (even if these activists are guilty of NIMBYISM, they do raise some valid concerns).

But my problem is not that they should have chosen some small independent businesses or co ops. One of my problems with Pro Share is the fact it’s compulsory, for the form tutors and teachers alike. We have all get better stuff to be doing. It’s a waste of time. Secondly, it is obviously rooted in capitalist ideology, encouraging us to become small time capitalists, investing in shares hoping to get benefit from, and make our mark on, the markets, which naturally creates and nurtures the ambition of one day being able to play a bigger role in controlling the flow of capital, and therefore, acquiring power. Even the leaflet admits this, though in different terms, in my eyes by saying “a variety of events and competitions support students understanding of financial management and promote an enterprise ethos”. Furthermore, it says a “business and enterprise dimension permeates most subjects in the curriculum”. In my words, the virus is spreading to other subjects and indeed other schools, who do suffer the same sort of thing regardless if they specialise in business and enterprise. After all, this indoctrination is a permanent feature of the modern education system, whose function is training young minds to accept their masters and become work place fodder, but I was astounded how blatant Pro Share’s nature is and how some of my friends seemed to lap it up and get really enthusiastic about it. In the assembly where it was first launched, I was just sitting there marvelling at the pomposity with which Pro Share was pushed (alliteration points +1). Is it really only me that recognised how much this was an exercise in un reserved political socialisation this was?( and therefore, I also thought what good material this was for my blog, this is exactly the type of thing that I made my blog to report on.)

My thoughts just as quickly turned to what sort of actions I should take. I was considering just boycotting it at first, but when I learnt it was compulsory, I thought it was not worth the trouble and I would look like a dick if I were to announce I did not want to take part based on political and ethical objection in form time amongst my peers. It already appears to some of people I know in my school, and unfortunately, some friends, that I seem to deliberately have radically different views, disagreeing for the sake of it and taking pride in being so non-conformist (I wonder if any other comrades have been subject to this suspicion by their friends and co-workers). So then I was thinking about sabotage or just taking the piss. There was a wealth of options but the one I ended up going for was taking the piss. Consequently, me and the others in my group in the game, who both know I am anarchist and share my disapproval, but not quite for the same reasons, have agreed to my desire to name our group “corporate greed” and invest in the companies with the most obviously questionable moral standing, BP and the alcohol company Diageo (though I am not a straight edge guy). We have invested the minimum amount and split it up between the two companies. We will do no further adjusting, which is permitted by the rules of which there are many (we figured it would be great if we could win by doing the bare minimum).

They seem to be taking it quite seriously because one of the rules says we are not allowed to invest in any companies who our friends/family work for because they might tell us non-public information about the companies that we could use to our advantage. It’s hilarious to think anyone would be that bothered about it to go to that extent, but I’m sure a quick look on WikiLeaks would suffice to gather some not so flattering information about the these companies. I even had a fleeting moment where I envisioned myself, having accidentally won the game, standing up in assembly and making an uncomfortable speech exposing the bastards when I was talking excitedly to my mates in “Corporate Greed” about what we could do like something out of Fight Club or V for Vendetta. Another rule included that our names should contain no smut. We have jumped through the bureaucratic hoops so far and filled the form out with the name and our sparing investments which has now been submitted.

I can only hope that our form is refused because of the name and our minimal compliance, that I hope is indicative enough of my opinion of Pro Share, because that could provide a very interesting opportunity to expose the motives of Pro Share and to demonstrate how it will indeed be forced on us to the teachers and maybe my peers. The winners are promised by a big prize, although they won’t tell us what the prize is. Any suggestions on what other actions I could take are welcome. As I said earlier, I will update the blog in the event of developments. I am going back to school after having had a week of for half term tomorrow so it might be quite soon that our forms are returned and we are informed of what other groups have done, whose winning etc, and in that eventuality I will do another quick blog.

Posted By

Croy
Feb 19 2012 22:27

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Comments

Chilli Sauce
Feb 19 2012 23:01

Yeah, I remember that same sort of shit when I was in school (in particular, we did this same shit where we had to invest make believe shares over the course of a year) and, now that I work in a school, I can tell you it's only gotten worse. In my school, it's the kids getting "practical" BTECS who are most pushed into these shitty business orientated programs. They go out to events sponsored by fuckers like Siemens to learn about different management styles (ranging from the "democratic" to "strong leader"...).

I was thinking, if they give you shit for the name, you could always go with "corporate responsibility" and let the irony do the talking. But yeah, keep us updated, I'm legitimately curious to see what sort of response you get.

On a pedantic point (and I am nothing if not a pedant), that is one big paragraph, my friend. Maybe chuck in a paragraph break or two for ease of reading?

Steven.
Feb 19 2012 23:39

Ha ha, well I hope you do win the share task!

I remember doing that when I was in school. It was pretty pointless really, we were just picking a random. It's also pretty funny they want to stop any of you doing a Gordon Gecko. I'm sure if any of you were actually going to do that you would be buying the real shares!

I would echo chilli sauce here that people find long paragraphs hard to read. I would break up that text into a bunch more shorter paragraphs.

Also, I will edit the intro now, but the intro box should be used to explain to readers what the rest of the article is going to be about, as a teaser to get them to read more.

Great blog though, it's good to have you on here!

Croy
Feb 20 2012 09:15

Split the paragraph up a bit more now

blackout
Feb 20 2012 11:04

Just switch your shares to the most topically unethical company and try to satirically explain this. I.e: "This week we've bought shares in Tesco as they're sure to be profiting from the government's Work Programme"

Croy
Feb 20 2012 13:37

Im not sure if you all of this but I do mention that I decided to invest in the un ethical ones like BP because of the oil spill etc

blackout
Feb 20 2012 19:32

Oh I did read it, but I mean, aren't they all pretty unethical?

Croy
Feb 20 2012 19:34

Yeah

snipfool
Feb 20 2012 22:30

i found these attempts to get people into business more dull than sinister.

had to do the fake buying of shares in school too, was completely uninterested but to be honest i wish i paid a bit more attention cos i'm still a bit clueless over how stockmarkets function.

business week was awful, my role was accountant and i had no fucking clue what i was doing. i had to write a quick speech summarising the profit etc. - it was all lies and nonsense and i made someone else read it out and look foolish.

Ellar
Feb 21 2012 14:02

Are you still sending these into Freedom Croydonian?

Croy
Feb 21 2012 16:28

No, I have not sent in any of my blogs to Freedom apart from my very first one that was just about how I got into anarchism

blackout
Feb 22 2012 10:49

The primary school child that I look after sometimes had 'money week' at school last year. The highlight included a trip to Tescos to see how the glamorous world of the grocery business works.

Croy
Feb 22 2012 13:55

our school occasionally takes business students to sainsburys

Chilli Sauce
Mar 1 2012 19:43

So how's your "simulation" coming along? Did they accept your name and has it caused a stir? Any chance for debate around just how shit it is that you're being asked to do this in the first place?

Croy
Mar 1 2012 19:47

Its been said in assembly that the results are due in monday so Im looking forward to that. I have had no teachers talk to me about the name so I am assuming it was accepted. I do hope we have done well and are in the top rankings because if we are it is likely it will be mentoned in the next assembly, as they usually show the top of the league table for the fantasy football thing they do with the team names and the points etc.

wojtek
Mar 2 2012 03:13

Hi Croy, just to say I like your blog, though I don't have much to say that's worthy of a post. If I could 'like' or 'vote up' your blog post I would man. Take it easy.