See You Next Wednesday
Thursday, August 14
Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School.

I attended an Operational Muppetship Program training course yesterday. It started poorly but I was giving it a chance. I gave up after the section about copyright and royalties and all those legal requirements which need to be met before the show can go on. Camilla discovered her facilitator’s answer sheet had not been updated so, instead of relying on her knowledge of the topic, or the knowledge of the group (which was almost entirely muppets who were just there to brush up on their skills) she declared “let’s not worry about where our permission comes from”. Then she split the class into two groups, one to make a list of skills useful for Sesame Street and the other to make a list of skills useful for Fraggle Rock, while she wandered off seething about the “bloody” answers. When she came back the lists were not discussed at all, instead we were told who was responsible for the cock up (certainly no her) and carried on to the next topic.

How to be a Successful Muppet.

The list of things to aim for to be a successful muppet was delivered as a guessing game. Camilla would prompt with “what would a successful muppet model” (positive behaviours) or “how much micro-management do muppets need” (some of them need a very, very, very little bit - no pun intended). Eventually we guessed all fifteen items on the list, eventually. The guessing game was also the method employed to deliver “Why Muppets Need Legs” (because Hitler didn’t have legs, I think) and “Muppet Motivations” where we learned getting rid of simple work was bad because the average complexity of your tasks would increase (having more time to do them was not a consideration).

Trouble with directions.

“Lift up your right foot and make a circle with it. Now write a six in the air with your other hand. See? It’s impossible.” When people disagreed Camilla clarified the circle should have been clockwise. When people demonstrated it was entirely possible Camilla suggested they probably didn’t know which way was clockwise which was okay because some people just have trouble with directions.
People also had trouble with “turn to page thirteen but don’t read it yet, like the other day”. This wasn’t helped by only having eight pages. Also, “it’s three minutes to twelve, we’ll just do this and then we can go to lunch” when everybody can see it’s already a quarter past; and “everybody write something on the list, you won’t have to speak about it” followed by “who wrote that one, tell us why you wrote that on the list” for each item. She did that twice.

Muppet types.

Operational Muppetship requires you to work with muppets who operate in different ways. To learn how to identify (but not label) differences everybody read a list of statements and ticked the ones which we “had a gut feeling about”. Camilla then tried to get people who had ticked mostly the same statements to move into groups in the corners of the rooms. She chose to do this by explaining how to orient the piece of paper with the statements so the statements you ticked would indicate the corner for you to move to - all without using potentially labelling words like “left”, “right” or “top”. She failed, and when we were finally herded into our corners she promptly assigned each group a (non-labelling) letter.
Some people recognised the letters and two people (from the D group, who were ironically not labelled “direct communicators”) took issue with their position because when they had done this before they had ended up in a different corner. Camilla explained they had not had a gut feeling about the statements they ticked, they had thought about it. This must have happened because a person cannot change their non-label. The DISC model* is based on the Classical Greek theory of the four humours. It remains constant, unlike wishy-washy ambivalent Myers-Briggs which Camilla is not authorised to administer. DISC is robust and she had been using it for years before she paid for the materials and got accreditation.
Apparently, as you practise Operational Muppetship and develop a gut feeling about statements from across all four unlabelled groups, you will maintain your original non-label. It is as constant and immutable as the theory of the four humours, even when the test originally used to not label you can no longer discriminate it. Amen.

Time management.

How did Camilla fit three Operational Muppetship Program training units totalling twelve hours into one eight hour day? She spent half an hour on a five hour unit (the time management unit, ironically enough) and declared the rest would be done on the next course (which already has two units totalling over nine hours scheduled). I hold a faint glimmer of hope Camilla will reveal the secrets of relative time dimensions at the next course; in the half hour she spent on the “Four Ds of Time Management” she came up with eight (nine if you count the one which starts with ‘I’).

*DISC models attitude, communication, habits, learning or personality depending on which word pops into Camilla’s head at the time, uncorrelated to the topic of conversation.
Thank you for brightening my day.

[bursts out laughing]

I'm glad the training had some purpose.
I think it was either frustration or entertainment.
How many other people reading this were drawing circles (clockwise or widdershins) and sixes with their hands and feet?
me. i was exhausting all possibilities involving circles and sixes, feet and hands.

and it was absolutely no drama cane farmer

(for me that's impressive - it's all that belly dancing - I wouldn't have been able to even think about it without getting a headache ten years ago)

I did enjoy this post but I do get the nagging sensation that in another universe, faced with a pressing need to earn a bit more of a living than my current tea-drinking job brings in, I could probably find a niche for myself doing something rather like what Camille is doing...
I gotta say, even by the usual time wasting standard of generic APS training, this trainer sounds unusually shite.
I came here to see if there's been an update yesterday, but as there wasn't I just read this post again. Second time around and I'm still giggling. It makes me want to work for the public service.
Don't do it. It's a trap.
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This may not sound like the snappiest line from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but it evidently caught the imagination of John Landis, who has worked references to a mythical film of this name into most of his own movies - memorably as the grotty British skinflick watched by an assortment of lycanthropes and zombies in the climax of An American Werewolf in Paris [sic] (1981). Ghastly Beyond Belief, Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman

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