The Lives of Others – The French Way


There have been more tensions than is usual at work and some of them concern the deputy head. He is a new guy and arrived in my school last September.

Those of you who have seen The Lives of Others may remember the main character, Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, this is what the deputy looks like. It wouldn’t be significant if his methods were not akin to those of the Stasi, or so it seems to us.

As son as the bell rings in the morning, and then again every hour, he leaves his office and goes round the school. This would be fine if he was ready to tell off misbehaving students, but he doesn’t. Instead he checks what time we enter the classrooms and then eavesdrops once the door is closed. Even though I realize heads and deputies know who can keep a class in check and need to listen to what is going on every now and again, I find the concept quite unpleasant.

Apparently he also searches the bins/trash cans. Thus he handed a colleague some photocopies he had made by mistake, telling him he apparently had lost something.

His most worrisome habit, however, is that he searches people’s computers. One secretary arrived early one morning only to find Stasi Captain our deputy sitting at her desk in front of her switched on computer. Then his own secretary discovered that someone had consulted his computer at 10 p.m. This has also happened to the only teacher who has a personal computer in his own office (incidently he is also the only one with a personal office). It is possible that he has checked what we do on the staff room computers. Yet I am not sure how to verify this since we use personal sessions and I don’t know if there are personal chronologies of the sites we visit.

What can we do? The head is the deputy’s friend, that’s even why he was appointed in our school in the first place. It is also delicate to involve the teachers’ unions as both secretaries work much more than we do with the deputy.