Devils, Angels, Spanking, Lice, a See-through Nighty, and a Prayerful Principal. Welcome to Ethnography.com Bill Rich!

Over the last few weeks, we have started posting stories by retired Professor Bill Rich of Chico State’s Education School. Bill was a former teacher, elementary school principal, and deputy superintendent of schools for human resources before becoming a Professor of Education in 2001. While in these jobs he acknowledges being a creature of the Education machine, trying to shape the lives of the students, parents and teachers in his rural California districts for the better.

What did this mean? He writes:

“Any kind of downer is pretty much forbidden for school administrators. Got to be upbeat and positive all the time. Can do, no problem, got it all under control, don’t worry about a thing, just leave it to me…..”

This applied to dealing with school boards, poverty, State-mandated Curriculum, Parents, Prostitution, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. No downers, no problem, and most important, “I got control.”

While in these jobs, Bill collected stories, which are starting to appear in the pages of Ethnography.com at sometimes regular, sometimes not-so-regular intervals. The intervals tend to be dependent on when he is spending time with his grandkids (posting slows down), and fishing (posting speeds up). Here are the seven we have so far:

1) Last Tango in the Superintendent’s Career: My Education in Spanking Errant Children

2) Devils and Angels in the Language Arts Books! The Principal Strikes Back

3) Clifford the Big Red Dog Rallies Around the Flag at Elementary School

4) How Lice, A See-through Nighty, and a Turkey Helped Grow Compassion

5) Don’t Cry over Spilt Coffee: Another Thanksgiving Turkey

6) The Holiday Child Abuse Memo

7) The Prayerful Principal

We are of course looking forward to more of these stories in coming months. Some might also sneak in from his days as a professor, and he even write about the nature of his “ethnographic style.” My impression is that his “style” as such will consist of the a combination of the “bureaucratic principal Bill” which frames a problem, followed by the “ironic Bill” in which the sharpened pen points out some of the very human un-bureaucratic consequences of school actions. Often this is done in a guffaw-worth manner—do not take that last sip of coffee while getting to the end of some of the blogs unless you are ready to clean spew off your computer screen!

Other times his style can be downer. Not every situation a teacher or principal encounters makes fun of the bureaucracy so neatly.

In terms of presentation and editing, we are still figuring out how to classify and index Bill’s blogs at Ethnography.com. Right now we are just happy to have them coming in and getting them posted. More to be announced in the future.

Tony Waters