It has been a busy couple of evenings so no posting for EBL. Time to catch up, because I have been reading some posts and thinking about what to post and generally going a bit postal (largely due to the extra hours required if I am ever going to get finished with The Project).

Thursday night I was at a School Governors meeting and discovered to my amazement I had served eight years. Honestly, you don’t get that for murder. There is wise advice about not serving too long, and stepping aside to make way for fresh insights. So I am starting to think about a New Life after the end of this school year.

On Friday we were at the village quiz, and Sigoth was telling me about some of the questions he had been writing. We write the quizzes each month, and this time I had to leave Sigoth to it because of workload. Sometimes one of us has to do that, it makes the quizzes a bit more interesting actually. Oh look, EBL, stepping aside again!

The thing Sigoth was telling me about was that because the 1st February is the anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia Disaster, there are a lot of astronauts coming up on the 1st February date page in Wikipedia.

columbia astronautsIt made me think. I didn’t think about the astronauts so much, although generally I am sorry for the loss in that slightly disconnected way in which we recognise tragedies at a distance. What Sigoth noticed was that they all had Wikipedia entries.

I pictured the heroes arriving in Valhalla on the wings of that terrible explosion, and the fuss and confusion and awe of their entrance, followed by a slightly embarrassed silence during which Thor hissed loudly “Who are they again?” and Odin said “I’ll just check them out on Wikipedia…”

I wondered, in the event that there turns out to be an afterlife after all, whether I would finally have time to read the sum of human knowledge as embodied in Wikipedia; and how long it would take, as when I finished I would have to start again in order to pick up the new articles; and if, in fact I would ever finish.

Will the souls clustered in heaven, of whatever flavour they choose, find their Wikipedia entries a comfort, or a source of one-up-man-wiki? Or will they shriek and moan at their editors, pointing shaking, misty fingers at prose riddled with factual inaccuracy and misconstrued meaning? Is Wikipedia in fact setting us up for the Great Demonic Infopocalypse, in which the souls of the dead, maddened by falsehoods, typos and misconceptions, storm and rage the length and breadth of cyberspace in order to re-establish the truth. We will see endless wars of information updates, malicious hacks and outright libel, discussion forums flamed and bleeding, servers brought down under the weight of change and counter-change.

Oh, wait, are we there already?

I was thinking of starting a New Life. Now I’m wondering if I need to plan my New Afterlife instead.


The road to hell

is paved with good intentions (allegedly) so if nothing else one of the paving slabs will be this journal entry. Of course I intend to give it a go. I am told it is psychologically beneficial. I have even attempted paper journals in the past.

I’ll start with the thing I did today which was difficult. I attended a school disciplinary meeting to decide whether to exclude a student permanently or not. I’m never sure whether these meetings are a good idea – when I was a kid at my school the headteacher would simply have kicked someone out and that would have been that. I don’t think it was a good system. But schools now rely on governors to act as the final arbiters – and what do we know? We are all amateurs who rely in turn on what the professionals (teachers, social workers, LEA) tell us. We don’t know the child and usually we don’t know about what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

I have also taken part in a school staff disciplinary and that I think was more productive because we were able to apply our own knowledge from our respective work situations to see what needed to be done. We had what is termed “a robust discussion” and came to a decision which seemed right – by which I mean I got everyone to agree with me. But at least the territory was familiar.

So in schools we have moved away from trusting professionals to do their job and brought in people with little or no knowledge of education to oversee things. Would we do this for doctors, or builders, or judges?

Alternatively, I have worked in charities/non-profits as a professional all my working life, and there we have moved from well-meaning amateurism to structured professionalism. I would like to think this makes us more effective but often it feels frustratingly bureaucratic.

But in the end perhaps it comes down to this – that fairness and justice are about the spirit of the law and not the letter. At work we may bend the rules to get people what they need. As Governors we do the best for the individuals that we can, and let the paid staff worry about how to tick the boxes to get the right answer. The flip side of this is that rules mean very little and if we want to discriminate there is a danger we can do so.

Looking back, I seem to have returned to my entry title unexpectedly. We have the best of intentions but how can we feel sure that what we do is the right thing after all? Sometimes meaning well is not enough. Although it must help.

Anyway, time for a cup of tea, the real answer to everything. Mind the cracked paving slabs – or the bears will get you!