Saturday, 26 March 2016
When I started Smart School it was was something different, it was the first of its kind and a pilot for Umbrella's successful big Pharma Academy chain across the UK. We came to call these schools "Farms" but at the time it was an obvious choice for my parents trying to do their best for me and I was lucky to get in - mostly because at the time it was experimental.
I remember my first day - everyone was nervous, it was like a blind date ... or rather an arranged marriage. I worried about what I had gotten into but kept telling myself that it was for the best and that I would be better off in the long run and that the experts really knew their stuff. We assembled in the school lecture theatre where Peter the resident Principle greeted us and introduced the staff, the school and its principles.
I remember Peter's induction address clearly - how he spoke so confidently and persuasively about success based on measured performance and how the Smart School process is the most efficient and effective way to guarantee results. He spoke about evolution and quoted someone or something called the Bullet Proof Executive saying “Going back a million years, humans had fire, One guy used it to stay warm, and the other said ‘That’s cheating.’ One of those is our ancestors, and one isn’t". He spoke about the coming robot revolution and the need for humans to "level the playing field" by enhancing their cognitive abilities to "race against the machines". He then almost put us to sleep (for we were not yet medicated) with data, data and yet more data about the numbers of people taking smart drugs in education and business and about the advantage it gives those who take them. He spoke about the dangers of underground BYOD or Bring your Own Drugs use and spoke about the ethics of using them - about the need to be honest and open about using smart drugs. It was during the bit about ethics that another student showed me her smartphone ... she had Google'd the principle and found out his middle name was Deon - we weren't sure what this meant but had to cough and sneeze to disguise our laughter. It also turns out he isn't actually a principle at all but something called a CEO or Chief Executive Officer - we joked that this should really be Chemical Enhancement Officer and had to cough and sneeze all over again.
The CEO introduced us to Eduard the eLearning manager ... this went without explanation but we took this to mean the Enhanced Learning manager. He took us through the schools regime saying that where other schools have an MLE, Smart School is a Medicatedl Learning Environment practicing Medicated Learning Enhancement. He went on to say that where some educationalists talk about a PLE, Smart School is a Pharmaceutical Learning Environment practicing Pharmaceutical Learning Enhancement. We then went for a tour around the school, it was nothing special, just like any other school really except the pharmacy. The pharmacy, we were told, is where our Smart School education will really take place. The eLearning manager was based in the pharmacy - he called it the PE room - a place where our brains get a work out. We also came to call the pharmacy the PE room but to stand for Pharmaceutical Education". There wasn't really much in the PE room except shelves of "Smart Ass" (Umbrella Pharma's own brand nootropic) and there wasn't really much for the eLeaning manager to do in the PE room except prescribe and administer the daily dose of the "Smart Ass" suppository or "magic bullet" as we came to call it.
I remember my first time - the first time I took pill. Suddenly the "mist" cleared - I could see clearly - everything was easier - I could remember stuff, I could work stuff out, I could solve problems, I was a Smart Ass.
I remember how everyone absolutely aced their exams - we all excelled, everyone achieved, ofsted rated Smart School as outstanding and so began the Umberella Pharma chain of Academies and so began my problems.
I remember graduating from Smart School armed with a wad of top grade qualifications, Smart Ass pills and ready to race against the machines ... except the machines had already won. There were no smart jobs for me and where there were jobs I just couldn't compete against the machines - no matter how much of a Smart Ass I became.
No one likes a Smart Ass!
When I started Smart School it was was something different - now I had left Smart School it was time to try something different.