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Sorcerer's apprentice

I was wondering whether I could possibly describe myself as a new broom, and that reminded me of the hapless early career of the sorcerer's apprentice, which seemed a more appropriate allusion. The first time one does any job, it is apt to be a bit chaotic. So this is the moment to thank the outgoing sorcerer, Nick Lowe, for his five years as Editor. Colleagues who have seen more of it than I have will appreciate his tremendous efficiency, creativity and good humour. His spirit overshadows this edition too: I am immensely grateful for the advice, encouragement and wit which came sailing over the ether in response to my confused and technophobic cries for help. Nick has become Webmaster; our website has grown so much and is set to grow so much more, that it is now a job in its own right.

Many thanks are also due to the contributors of this year's articles. Here, however, there is also some bad news. The Bulletin depends on its contributors. This year the Committee asked for an article on all the British Schools around the Mediterranean, on the grounds that Athens and Rome are the only two which are very widely known and used, and it would be a good thing to publicise the others. I set about gathering information. Athens and Rome, and individually Robin Osborne and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, responded at once, with large quantities of splendidly-produced publicity. Gina Coulthard recommended the Ankara website to me. Other answers came there none. Letters and phone calls went unacknowledged. When it came to writing the article, all I had was a lot of information from Athens and Rome which departments get anyway, and which it did not seem particularly useful to reproduce on its own.

So this is an apology, a regret and a new year's resolution. I will try to produce the article on British Schools for the next Bulletin. But I need help - information - anecdotes - memories of what it's like to be there, from all the schools. Please write in.... To fill the gap this year, I have put in a short version of a piece the Journal of Educational Assessment on assessment in Roman education, in the hope of raising at least a wry smile from all those who have recently entertained or are about to entertain the QAA. Not from a morbid love of self-publicity; au contraire. Every editor's greatest ambition is to have nothing to do.

Finally, in his article, Geoffrey Eatough points out that concentrating on quality assessment and research assessment is in danger of distracting us from more fundamental questions of the nature and future of our discipline. What the profession will need most in the next few years, he says, is visionaries. So this is also an appeal to (or for) visionaries. I know that the wisdom of the scribe is supposed to come by opportunity of leisure, but anything that hard-pressed colleagues can contribute in this forum to contemporary debate and wisdom literature, will be greatly appreciated.


CUCD Bulletin 29 (2000)
© Council of University Classical Departments 2000

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