Best job in Britain

Last week I used one of the days of ‘community leave’ the BBC gives me to spend the day interviewing candidates for deputy head at the junior school in Hertfordshire where I’m chair of the governors. I was one of three governors on the panel, along with the school’s excellent head and our very brilliant and wise local authority advisor. In the end, we didn’t appoint anyone. Sometimes that happens, of course, and we’re going to have to do the whole thing again in a couple of weeks.

This is obviously one of the most important parts of a governor’s job. It’s exhausting, fascinating, sometimes quite emotional and always gripping stuff. I don’t think there’s any doubt that teaching is the most scrutinised profession in Britain. On interview day we required each of the candidates to write a paper about behaviour (against the clock); observe a class, write it up and tell the head what they thought; meet with a group of pupils; take lunch in the staffroom and then, to top it all, make a presentation to the panel before they got stuck into the interview proper (they had, of course, already been observed in their own classrooms by the head).

And, as a volunteer, it’s such an enormous privilege to be allowed to participate in this process: to interrogate the passionate and interesting and complicated people who came through the interview room that day, to unravel their life stories a bit and to test their fit for the equally complicated world that is a modern school. It’s the kind of experience you can’t pay for but it’s one that’s available to pretty much anyone. There are hundreds of thousands of vacancies for school governors in Britain. You should try it.

Steve Jobs and everyone’s fork in the road

Robert Scoble’s got a touching video on his blog today. He’s outside Apple’s Cupertino HQ and talking about his first encounter with an Apple computer. He talks about unboxing an Apple IIGS, the last in the line of pre-Mac Apples and a hugely influential machine in its time. He says:

That was the time I knew my life was going to be different from my dad’s

Robert Scoble on Steve Jobs

And I cried as he said it because I recognise that experience. I unboxed my first Mac in my student flat in Camberwell in 1985 (having basically browbeaten my own father into buying it for me). And that was my giant fork in the road. I’m wondering how many other lives forked radically with the arrival of one of Mr Jobs’ products and whether you could calculate the cumulative value of all those huge, personal changes of direction? What kind of number would that be? An incalculably large one, I should think.