Saturday, 4 July 2009

Ordinations at Old Basing for Diocese of Winchester

This evening I was privileged to be able to attend the Ordination of new priests for the Winchester Diocese. The service was held at St Mary's Church in Old Basing - a lovely church with plenty of room in the Sanctuary for the assembled clergy and deacons. I was there with the rest of the family as guests of Stuart our curate.

It was a lovely service and great to see so many people there to support the 5 deacons being ordained.

After the service there was a chance to chat over drinks and I was able to take to the opportunity to meet the Archdeacon. He and I are both speaking at a deanery meeting in a couple of weeks so nice to have the chance to meet him beforehand.

After availing of the evening sunshine to take some photos (clicking on the one below will take you to my flickr account where there are a few more)
Stuart's ordination at St Mary's church Old Basing
it was time to head for home. I hope you noticed the way his stole is now adjusted to be worn in the manner of a priest rather than the sash configuration of a deacon.

God's blessing on you Stuart as you embark on this new phase of your ministry and we look forward to being at your first communion service in Chilbolton tomorrow.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Year 7 Celebration Assembly at Henry Beaufort School

This morning we, along with all the other parents of year 7 children at Henry Beaufort School, were invited to a "celebration assembly".

The morning started with coffee and croissant at the Beaufort Bistro - near to the hole in the ground that will become a fantastic new all weather pitch in the coming months.

We then moved to the hall where all of the year 7 children (just under 180 of them) were gathered with their form tutors.

The headmaster started with a talk highlighting some of the impressive list of achievements of the school over the last year and talked about how well the year 7's had settled into the school and how they are shaping up to be a great year.

This was followed by a short violin quartet performed by 4 of the year 7 boys to an impressive standard.

Next, 2 of the teachers read out statements from each of the form tutors which outlined some of their thoughts about the individual tutor groups.

Finally, we had the impressive logistical operation of presenting each of the children with a certificate of achievement. Each child had been assessed on 4 separate criteria (reward level/stamp total, attendance, uniform, and participation in school life) and for each given a score between 1 and 4 depending on level of achievement. Their total score then determined whether they received a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level certificate.

The children didn't know what level they were going to receive until their name was called out. I think Helen was pleased with platinum - I know we were proud of her.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sway - The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour

I recently read this excellent little book by Ori & Rom Brafman - ( with thanks to Michael who recommended it and lent me a copy )

Based around a series of engaging anecdotes the book explores some of the factors at play that can cause us to depart from what our experience, training and logic would lead us to and instead take seemingly rash and illogical decisions.

Influences covered included

- how the desire to avoid potential loss can lead us to illogical choices - "all-in" packages versus pay-as-you-go being one area where the risk of being charged more than the all in price causes us to accept the fixed rate even when the other option could well be cheaper.
- how the perceived cost of something affects how we value it - if it's free can it really be any good
- why as a man you should be wary of an attractive women who approaches you after you have just crossed a high rope bridge
- how the concept of "fairness" could lead people to turn down free money and studio audiences to deliberately banjax a contestant's chances of winning
- how offering a bit of money can lead to a worse result than relying purely on altruism. Altruism triggers the nucleus accumbens area of the brain whilst monetary reward triggers the posterior superior temporal sulcus - they say, and who am I to doubt them. They can't both operate at the same time so if you try and rely mainly on altruism but offer a small monetary sweetener you can end up closing down the altruism response completely.
- the value of dissent (and dissenters)

Ultimately I think the main lesson to take from the book is to be aware that as I take decisions and make judgments all sorts of hidden forces and influences are at work swaying my choices. By being more aware of what they could be, staying alert to wayward value attributions and assumptions about those around me plus taking steps, such as seeking out the dissenting voice, to counteract them, hopefully some bad choices can be avoided. I think the reality is that being "Sway"ed is here to stay so we need to accept that some of the decisions we take will be wrong and be prepared to admit it when it happens.

I hope there's a sequel sometime in the future and, like anyone else who has traveled out of Waterloo on the Weymouth train, my money's on the title being "New Milton".