Friday, June 15, 2012

Never Seconds trends on Twitter

I love it. The power of Twitter, that is. I can't be said to love the council for whom I used to work and in whose area I live, nor the idiocy that had them ban a blog about school dinners, nor the illiteracy of the hapless employee who was chosen to write Argyll & Bute's public statement about their reasons for such an action. And I fear, from the relative silence of the council's Twitter stream, that they will currently be buckling under the strain of the incoming flak - I've had to delete the column as it updates too rapidly for me to read at the moment. The blog in question has attracted 2543350 hits and the stat counter shows a new hit every second. You can go and look for yourself while I ramble happily here.

When I ran a school newspaper in an Argyll & Bute school, they did a feature on school meals. We didn't actually think this was out of line - that's not a royal 'we', despite the Jubilee season, it's my pupil editors with my approval - but rather something that would appeal to anyone who'd ever eaten school dinners. As as result, my articulate and wonderful editors - and gosh, haven't they done well in later life? - were hauled over the coals and told that a school meals supervisor had left her job ... Did that really happen? I don't remember being brought into the fray, as the pupils in question assured me there was no need, in another example of fortitude under fire and independence of thought and other worthy attributes that I was proud to help foster.

I've had my ups and downs over social media this week, but today's outpouring shows, perhaps, why people fear it so much. Yes, there is the odd numpty who uses a trending hashtag to post nonsense (usually sexual) on Twitter, but it was easy to filter them out of my screenshot and most of what I've seen reflects the mainstream view: that banning a pupil from taking photos of the food she has paid for and is about to eat is high-handed, authoritarian nonsense. Of course, they will justify it by saying they've banned mobile phones in schools or making some other similarly thoughtful response. People tend to want to ban anything that might expose their workings to public scrutiny - and nowadays, that's virtually impossible. The workings need, then, to be such that the organisation or individual is proud to have them on display - and that, chums, includes the food we feed our children. Martha, whose blog has caused all the furore, seems to rate most of her more recent meals pretty highly - do the council know something she (and we) don't?

I loved my time as teacher editor of The Pupils' View. I'm proud of what my former pupils have achieved, just as I was proud of them at the time. But right now I'm glad I don't teach any more, glad I don't work for Argyll & Bute council, glad I'm not answerable to anyone on this subject. I suspect I'd be too full of rage this morning to work effectively. But if I were still involved, I'd have the satisfaction of knowing that my MP, the Minister for Education, was on my side. How? Because I'd have read it on Twitter.

Footnote: and - again on Twitter - I learn that the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council has reversed the decision to ban the blog. Cheers!


  1. An Honest Man4:20 PM

    I'm disappointed in you! A&B Council didn't ban the blog. They banned the taking of photographs - an idiocy enough in itself for comment without any misleading opening paragraph.

    1. As the report originally said that the blog had been banned, and as the whole point of said blog was the photo of each meal described, I felt justified in repeating the admittedly slightly misleading statement in the media. If you read the post ( in which Martha says 'goodbye', you will realise that as far as she was concerned the ban finished her blog.