Skip to main content

Chalkboard Charlie

Imagine a school classroom: an old school one before the days of a smart board and ipads. this one has a chalkboard dominating and contaminating the teaching space. A lot of people think its obsolete and unnecessary but there it sits, a home for wisdom and feedback; for instruction and rebuke.

In one particular class a kerfuffle broke out one day: as a student, invited to the front to write some feedback on the board, clips its surface with the edge of a watch (it could equally have been a nail or an especially squeaky piece of chalk). The sound, familiar to many and almost universally uncomfortable, resounded through the classroom and before anyone could notice, a previously quiet and serious child in the class sprang to their feet shouting “I’ll kill you!”. As you can imagine it took some time to restore order into the room. The scribe seemed shaken- but defiant that all he was doing was writing.

Later at the staff meeting, teachers gave a variety of responses. The senior leaders decided to keep an eye on the child in question; they decided to look through all his work for signs of previous angry outbursts. Others, betraying their own issues with the dust and residue, suggested that all chalkboards should be removed. Most rolled their eyes at the overreaction, deeming it to be illogical.

But then the next day, the scribe from the first incident took to the board again. He had particularly good writing and was tall enough to reach the board so was often called on. But this time he didn’t simply write. He, with great care, ripped his nail down the edge of the board. The child from yesterday was incandescent. He leapt from his chair, wheeling his arms towards the scribe and not caring who got in the way. The scribe, far from shocked, smirked as he defended his right to be at the board.

The teacher intervened, hauling away the angry phobic young man with tears in his eyes. He was taken to the Head’s office to be monitored and punished. The scribe continued to move his nail up and down the board in celebration of his victory over furious zeal.

But the scribe didn’t notice the rest of the room. He didn’t notice the hands go over ears, he didn’t notice the agitation of the quiet young woman in the corner, one who would never cause a fuss but who had been turned on for she was the sister of the raging reactionary. The scribe did not notice that students in other classrooms were beginning to look up, disturbed but this universally difficult sound.

For our scribe, articulate and bright as they were, was also deaf.


Popular posts from this blog

Oxpresidentgate and a Crisis of Generosity

Its been an interesting start to the year for the third sector. As we all get to grips with GDPR (more later), we have been subject to increased media attention as first we reeled from President’s Club revelations to the far deeper impact of this week’s revelations about Oxfam (and others).
There is much that can be written. Undoubtedly there are some in media and politics who will seek to exploit the 1/3 of us who don’t think aid should be sent overseas to change policy off the back of bad behaviour by some people. We could face a drop in giving to international development, as supporting Oxfam is no longer seen as acceptable (like buying a plastic bag). I suspect this will recover at some point, possibly in different form.
However, there is a deeper moral crisis for third sector organisations and my fear is that Christian charities are not immune.
To explore this let me go back a month. The President’s Club- where charities were set to receive significant amounts of money from an…

A very dull post about what I do with my time...

Each year I take a calendar month and record what I do in it. I break each day into twenty minute chunks and note down what happens in each twenty minute block. I don’t do the same for designated Sabbath time (nor do I note each bit of time outside of the beginning and end of a working day, no-one needs to know how long I clean my teeth for).
I categorise each thing that I do (an imperfect science) with a view to getting a handle on what I do with my time. 
This year I did the audit in November (as clergy I always avoid doing this in Lent, Advent or August). 
So- what did I discover?
I work around 55 hours a week. (thats up one hour from last year) That work is spread over five and a half days. The only sabbath day that was interrupted by work was about processing a painful meeting.  Of 26 working days, I worked 12 evenings.
In terms of what I do:
In November 17% of my time was taken up with prayer, reading and learning. Thats a slightly false read as I had a 48 hour away time in there. Prayer…

Don't Be Fooled: Boris and the Great Distraction

We are now into day five of the nonsense about whatever Boris has or hasn’t said about women wearing burkas. Older white man makes derogatory, ill informed comments about what women wear. That’s not news. That’s every day. 
I am not belittling the impact- but there is some mischief going on here. 
I just finished reading Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened”. It’s not for the feint hearted- analysing loss is an ugly business. But in the midst of the pain she makes a really wise comment about the way the media covered the more outlandish things that Donald Trump said during the campaign. Her view is that it did no further damage to Trump as everyone knew he was a buffoon (my word), but it dominated the news cycle and stopped people talking about real issues for days at a time. 
Over the weekend senior economic types (like the head of the Bank of England) talked about the danger of a no deal Brexit. The pound continues to tank. And the media is dominated- not even by a serious piece about …