Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What I am doing....

So, I'm back and sat down in Hastings trying to get on with my MA dissertation.
Here's a mind map showing, approximately, where I think I am going, currently.
I am gonna write some more about being in the Arab Spring/summer/autumn/winter/spring/summer soon, was a pretty odd time.  

Friday, May 25, 2012


The other day i posted one of these shots on facebook. Hundreds (not literally) of people liked it. I am sure that if I had put up some pictures of the workshops i do with teachers there would have been less likes :)

There's something intrinsically wonderful about reading stories to kids in a red tent. These kids, from Ramallah schools, were really lovely, well behaved and great listeners (as you can see below). About 200 kids turned up to listen to 3 stories read by a number of tellers. The stories were told in fairly quick succession with a little pre & post story work. Then, the kids went off to do an hour's worth of activities which linked to the stories. My story 'Our House' linked to an activity where kids decorated a house.

 It was another great event (three of four for this year), I love them, and I will retain a very strong positive memory of times in my wonderful red tent!  The photos are from the first and second of six tellings I did on that day. Each time my confidence grew, and I experimented more. In the last one we all sat around the outside of the mats, together making Our House.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Second pick of the cherries: impact, brains and furnished imaginations

Second batch of cherries (brought to in association with rent a cherry tree / Dal's cherry farm...)

I just stumbled across some straight to laptop notes from IATEFL. Just three more cherries and then I am done with this IATEFL reflecting / retelling / rehashing / rememberinglark:

Simon Borg: The impact of teacher education on in-service teachers’ beliefs

This session raised and answered some very important questions close to my heart. The key one:

To what extent does your work as a teacher educator make a difference in anyway to anyone at any time and what can you do to find out about it. An important question to regularly ask, and is particularly pertinent in light of my current research pathway.

When thinking about impact he asks us to consider impact on what and who.

  • Participation (teachers and learners – reach / participation)

  • Beliefs

  • Knowledge

  • Skills

  • Behavior

When do we expect the impact to occur?

From a research perspective how we collect the data about the impact becomes an important questions and he offered three observations:

  • Limited impact research about INSET

  • Impact often not a design feature of projects

  • Simplistic notion of impact (i.e.: end of course questionnaire = happy sheets  but how about in the medium to long term)

This project was to examine the impact of INSET on teacher’s beliefs:

Key Findings

  • Limited initial awareness of beliefs

  • Variable impact on beliefs: a real range, and some confusion about understanding, articulating, confirming, changing, and applying beliefs

  • Blurring of beliefs and practices

The word impact has krept into my research direction which is on improving / changing what I do, investigating my own practices / beliefs and how having these reflections impact on my work and lead to growth. I guess like Bailey (2001, p11) I am "simply keeping a close watch on my own teaching (training / work), to see what I could learn and how I cold improve". I am hoping to explore and inform my praxis. Next up,

Richard Kiely - The Furnished Imagination: What new teachers take to work

In this session there was a report of a study into thirty or so, trinity cert graduates about what they took to work from their courses. Kiely kept in touch with his grads and eventually set about using the conceptual framework of the furnished imagination to explain their experiences. Wenger coined the term the furnished imagination to talk about our changing ability to describe the our practice. Our practice is based on our shared historical and social resources, frameworks we have for understanding. When we interact with others (usually) we engage in situational; / socially oriented learning as part of a community of practice.

The emergent themes were that trinity TESOL cert holders left for work with:

  • Readiness and confidence

  • A platform for continued situated learning

  • the buds of a teacher identity forming

  • varying levels of support in place

  • a furnished imagination

Each graduate who goes into a school will be faced with a different reality. This will be based on:

  • The nature of the mentoring

  • The norms of the school

  • Their own language learning and schooling histories

The TESOL cert grad develops an awareness of their:

Knowledge what do you know, what do you not know

Procedural awareness and skills e.g. TTT is not good…not interrupting pair /grp work

Dispositions character is permanent / disposition can be shaped / attitudes can change

TESOL Identity – Block (2007) socially constructed, self-conscious, negotiated, ongoing narratives that individuals perform, interpret and project

A furnished imagination is a way of:

  • understanding teacher learning
  • tracking professional learning
  • capturing teacher learning as professional identity formation in sociocultural terms
  • validating learning within CERT TESOL courses

He rounds off with a general statement that learning teachers need support, mentoring and space to make mistakes.

James E Zull author of from Brain to Mind

He was somewhat controversial, in the sense that not everyone was sold on what he was saying, but I thought he was great. He talked about what we can learn from how brain biology about learning. I was impressed at having a HARD scientist rather than a social-scientist. He communicated his points clear enough for a novice of brain studies and made them relevant (ish) to us. He was an elderly looking frail man with a wicked sense of humour.

Stuff I didn't know:

  • Learning physically changes the brain: the cortex thickens super fast ages 1-4 and then gradually reduces in size from then
  • Total number of synapses produced decreases as we get on, due to new ones not being produced as fast in old age.

I liked the ideas that:

  • you can learn by forgetting things, by abandoning what doesn’t work.
  • you will have a more complex mind if you have a broader set of experiences in that the more complex the networks are the ‘better’ the knowledge

He finished off with this very Kolb like experiential learning summary of how science explains learning:

  • Experience-information

  • Reflect-make meaning

  • Create-Predict

  • Act-Test

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My friends KADN have some work in the tate at the moment. It's a beautiful thing that encourages kids and families to get involved in making their own sculptures, structures and interacting with gallery artefacts in a non-established way. The work is called liminal, it's really good and it's a really good word too.

Image shamelessly nicked from Abigail Reed's facebook...

Liminality works for me and my current location. Palestinian people are perhaps liminal in the way that they are denied full statehood by many, my life is liminal (neither here nor there), and my research as an ethnographer, as a participant researcher (as I research myself) places me in some very liminal moments as I try to see me and yet separate the me from me, or something.

Friday, April 13, 2012

this caught my eye today

(image from guardian http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/4/12/1334228922629/Palistinauts-2010-by-Lari-005.jpg)

This exhibition by a Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour opens in Manchester tonight. It looks funny. She's a virtual jihadi :) I want one of these cute Palestinauts. The show is called Subversion, which is a very good name, or act.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


(image from http://resources.prufrock.com/Portals/0/BlogImages/Bloom.jpg)

Looking back through my notes from IATEFL I have cherry picked the best bits and will attempt in this post to briefly present them to you. By cherry pick, some of these are things that are new, some are less new cherry's but good ideas that perhaps I need to revisit.

I will start with a few cherry picked ideas from the RESIG day.
Sarah Mercer and Richard Smith had a few nice warmer activities: for example making acronyms that define how we feel: TEFL Totally Eddy Feeling Lad...

In her practice at uni in Austria she does learner histories as her first lesson, an idea that I am going to use tomorrow and Tuesday for my cover classes that bridge the gap between two teachers.

Richard Smith talked about making the most of feedback, something I am really into. He talked about the horrible evaluation questionnaire institutions use for various devious purposes. The practical suggestion of asking students for feedback using the start, stop, continue prompts, or rather (as a US colleague put it) keep, change, ditch. He clearly illustrated how we can (and perhaps should respond to open questions with closed questions.

Ruth Hamilton gave some ideas linked to possible changes that could be made to the CELTA, including making potential candidates shadow a teacher for a day, and echoing Scott Thornbury that the written assignments should be ditched and the course should be a teaching only course.

The British Council's people in China did an ace presentation on some amazing work they have been doing. It seemed really deep and meaningful, it was a great presentation, but I just wondered how scalable it was, and how many trainers they could train using this level of intensity of training. They also were able to show how they successfully wrangled with an issue of how to link teacher training and trainer training.

Susan Barduhn and Beth Neher did an amazing job of situating teacher educators as change agents a conceptualisation i really liked and find powerful. They focused on their context at SIT working with teachers on a long programme whereby they are mostly learning in school, but come to the Uni in the summers. They talked about how professional development is often viewed as deficiency related: if you need to improve, you are not good enough kind of thing. They talked about how we need to focus on learning not in a this is the right way, way.

They talked about change coming when there is trust and about change at three levels. First order change is reversible and is about immediacy. Second order change has transformative potential and is less likely to be reversed. This might be change to how teachers do things and who does what. I effects at a deep systemic, cultural level.

With the equation TRUST + EFFORT + LEADERS THAT UNDERSTAND CHANGE they say it is possible to be change agents. However, we must understand that change as chaos, loss, grieving, unstable, confusing, as somthing that creates conflict, but eventually becomes a new beginning with new identities, competency, identities and energy. The language in this talk was so BIG i loved it! They then finished off by talking about teacher's need for real knowledge and confidence and that we should do this taking into account that we have all undergone an extensive "apprenticeship of observation" (Lortie, 1975) and that understanding is created dialogically we need somthing and somebody to make sense of all!

In one of the many sessions I attended about doing teacher education work in development contexts an audience member said this in the Q&A after (my paraphrase):

people want quick fixes. We live in a superficial, celebrity obsessed, capitalist world. People in developing countries don't want to engage in deep reflections, change, or question their beliefs: they want quick fixes. All this talk about reflection is right. Therefore lets deal with the technical aspects of teaching first and then deal with the beliefs underpinning this.

It's a pretty staggering quote and was a great example of someone going balls-deep and not hedging their opinion: really saying it as they see it. Slightly contreversial generalisations, but still I get him, though I can't see how you seperate actions and beliefs, often the actions are very representative of the beliefs.

Penny Urr did a session talking about some of her issues called, it's all very well in theory but.....

She cites Schon initialy, who feels the scientific paradigm is not justified and that professionals learn by doing and then reflecting in /on / for action, not by applying research based theories.

She then moves onto talk about the teacher as researcher and action research as, a disciplined inquiry made public....and something that hasn't really happened. Teachers don't have time and so on.

She talked of issues teacher have, including:
1. Lack of clarity (writing not good)
2. Contradictions within the research
3. Researcher Bias
4. Limited Practical Application

She reminded me of the Hawthorne effect (how the consciousness of change influences outcomes of experiment). She also seemed to be asking for research to be done not only within limited populations / time frames and within these local pedagogical / practical constraints. She argued that researchers (like me) have limited experience of research (yes, but okay how do we get experience otherwise?). Practically, she recommends critical engagement with research and suggests: checking out overviews in language teaching / ELTJ, skimming abstracts, reading results and conclusions and saving in zotero, or similar. See for yourself here

The last nice cherry was from Gabriel Diaz Maggoioli at the new school. He presented 4 conceptualisations of teacher learning
  1. Look and Learn (craft tradition)
  2. Read and Learn (applied science tradition)
  3. Think and Learn (reflective tradition)
  4. Participate and Learn (sociocultural tradition)
Nothing massively new, but a good reminder (for me) to avoid dos and don'ts, better to participate and learn rather than prescribe and learn. He also made the point that we need to learn first and then develop, and that these are seperaate processes. His other cherries included being a teacher, not just teaching. He gave a nice idea for teacher training courses in the future that teacherly vocabulary (for example reflective practice, Lingua Franca and so on should be treated like vocabulary on any language learning course, i.e.: we play with it, using games like back to the board).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

short of writing my own reflections this caught my eye as a IATEFL response / wrap up / call to arms....
It kind of reminds me of Clarke's call for reform and change

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RESIG Pre-conference event

I have been following the yahoo group for Research Special Interest Group (RESIG) over recent months with great interest. It’s a great chance to get in on conversations about research and research articles, and is organized nicely so over a week. They have great events including upcoming things with Dick Allwright, Anne Burns, and Zoltan Dornyrei.

So yesterday was RESIG day. The whole day was anchored to the theme of Teaching as Researching. The distinction between research that is non-pedagogic (i.e.: doesn’t necessarily fit in with our usual classroom work) and that uses regular classroom activities as data generation. The sessions three main speakers were Richard Smith, Sarah Mercer and Ema Ushioda was inspirational. I had pages of notes, most of which pertain to ideas for dissertation possibilities which is great. It was also great to hear from other post-graduate researchers Yasmin, Ana, and Paula who produced a mini-newsletter for the conference. Big ups! (and Nellie too!)

I was inspired (despite looking a bit asleep in the photo above) by the talk of new genres of writing, new ways of presenting research, and the emphasis on teaching as research, rather than researching teaching and learning. Smith talked in lay man’s terms about how teasing out learner feedback, and investigating it and intervening before measuring the impact of this. This teasing out of issues, and the process of problematizing the feedback was interesting and we had hands on experience of doing so.

He also problematized the student satisfaction / scorecard questionnaire that we are all so familiar with. This tool, that is so often used by schools / management to get insight into the training/class room, does lack depth. Smith engaged with issues in his own context at Warwick Uni.

Sarah Mercer talked about getting student narratives, and using these learning histories, in Graz, to inform planning and benefit the relationships we have with our learners. This example of ‘teaching as research’ uses students’ work, written at home about themselves to inform not only on language needs but also into a broader piece of research.

Rounding off was lovely Ema Ushioda who took us through the process of doing i-statement analysis, which contrasted with Mercer’s more holistic analysis to data. I-statements (not a new kind of designer sunglasses from apple) are a way of categorizing informant/student data. Again, it was good to have the change to have a go at doing this procedure. This would have been useful for systematizing my data analysis.

The noisy drama people next door, wow they sounded like they were having a hoot.

After a work meeting, and a nice meet, and remeet with lots of old faces from around the network. So many people whose names I knew but faces were unknown….bit embarrassing at times, but still very nice…. it was on to the North Star ELT Karaoke night with Nick Turner and briefly managed to shout buckfast at singer and pop start (and spy) Shell Terrell. We also got to see Jim Scriv, the Peach, Petya Pointer and many of the PLN / ELT Chat folk. Was fun but needed to eat…

Haggis for breakfast – yum!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

IATEFL Predictions

Glasgow Online

So, for the first time I get to join the great ELT flock and travel as part of the annual migration to a UK destination for IATEFL.

This year it's Glasgow. It's been ten years of wanting to go, not being able to afford to go, and good fortune that I am going this year. I'd like to be presenting something, but due to the last minute nature of it all won't be able to, I will find other ways to contribute. This blog post for one :)

At the same time the amount of carbon produced in the global travel of participants, the permanent UK location of the conference (why is it always in UK?), the fact that it is very expensive (remember the pay to present discussion), commercial, large, a 'fractured experience' according to some, and so on, all leave me cold.

On the other hand, IATEFL broadcasts a lot of its plenary's and other sessions helping to mitigate the carbon and the costs. In the past I have been able to watch these from the comfort of the office, or where ever I am calling home, I really remember this one from Tessa Woodward which I loved.

This year I am really hoping to have a good reflect. I hope to be inspired. I really hope that it helps focus me for my dissertation, and provides some useful things for me to take back to Palestine when I continue my work here after a few weeks off.

On the less serious side I thought I'd make a few predictions about the upcoming get together, no offence....

These events are often an eye feast of English teachers from all over the world in their finest get up. So,

Waistcoats - I reckon I will be one of the few men without a waistcoat, in fact I may have to buy one while there if it is derigeur
Red Trousers - i reckon there will be one or two pairs of red panted male ELTers
Overly smart people - this may be because I am a scruffy git, but I tend to spot the very smart. Defining this I am thinking double breasted jackets and tie clips...

  • Plenty of presentations about flashy tech stuff most of which is currently exclusive to the wealthy, on line, connected 20% of the world...love it but...
  • PLNs / PLEs - something impacting on my life, very useful stuff for the teacher without helpful colleagues, or who wants to develop in and out of school setting...
  • Lots of Apple Macing and smart phoning - and me being jealous of my inability to participate on the back channel on a Steve Jobs Machine...
  • I will buy an apple computer before the week is out :)

  • Someone will read their presentation from a power point and it will be awful...happens at every conference, will it happen at IATEFL too?
  • There will be a difficult audience member (me?) who asks difficult, critical, obtuse questions...
  • I will end up (unknowingly) in a commercial presentation of some kind, and I won't like it that what i thought was about learning and teaching is more about me being sold a product / service. This will be as annoying as those films where it's just one big product placement...unless you like flash gimicks and gadgets
  • Dogme - there will be stuff on dogme, from the dogmeists of planet dogme, they will not plan their sessions, and they will not place products, or will they?

Around the fringes
  • There will be lots of hangovers after all the evening 'receptions'
  • Someone will go way to far with the buckfast, not realising how mental it turns people (me?)
  • There will be karaoke to a near professional standard that will make you think that the singer has been practising that song for months
  • Pecha-Kucha will be great
  • Someone will offer to share (like it's new) the talking lift that doesn't cope with Scotish accents video
  • There will be lots of talk about the weather, Scottish nationalism
  • There will be red TEFL blood....
Let TEFL communion commence. May you network til you have smarm ingratiatingly dripping from your every pore, may you share your lessons from the class/training room, may you meet lots of new and old friends, may you get that job, and please above all, please let me get some inspiration for me self...

For a slightly more sober post on a similar theme try this about getting the most from conferences, some good suggestions that doubtless will fall on my deaf ears / blind eyes...

Ps: English for Accounting could be fun..I clicked on the link below and it took me to this page
Talk about sexing it up!

A world of words, roles, and differences: Classroom Language

After Christmas I was back at uni again, doing another Classroom Language course. This training provided an opportunity for some undergraduate English literature and language students to do some of our training. They enjoyed it and some of them will go onto build from this in their professional lives; which is ultimately the aim of doing these sessions. Yet, ‘behind the scenes’, in the wings, there were a few tensions and conflict (the good kind you can learn from).

The classroom language course is quite a challenge for trainers and trainees alike. The language and pedagogical content mean that is a tasty sandwich for all to get their teeth into. I co-trained on this most recent course with a more qualified and more experienced Palestinian ELT trainer at a University, Palestine. The University is a long-standing partner and the trainer had observed some of the previous course I had led. For the bosses it seems a logical way to make this kind of course more sustainable, and at the same time keep the novelty (am I a novelty, or an experienced ELT professional?) of having a member of staff from outside of the faculty involved in the training.

The trainer and I scheduled 2 pre-meetings, but feeling confident that our professional culture would bridge our other differences, and time poor, settled for just one meeting. In this meeting we framed the upcoming course as a learning experience for both of us. In retrospect, there were a number of basic things absent from this conversation.

Although, we had had lunch on the earlier course, we didn’t know each other, we didn’t know too much about each other’s classroom experiences as teachers or trainers, our educational backgrounds in any real detail, we didn’t understand each others’ perceptions about teaching and learning: we didn’t share expectations about what this course would be like. This left a lot unspoken and meant our professional culture would bridge a 30 year age difference, among others.

My co-trainer and I hadn’t had enough time to build our professional discourse. What I mean by this is that terms like, for example, the communicative approach to teaching (or training), which we both used, were practiced in different ways. So, weirdly we spoke the same language, but the meanings of the words were different. These false friends then became more problematic as we were attempting to co-train, bringing life to these terms.

It’s important that I say that I am no chauvinist, or TEFL fascist, I am not saying that my way of understanding, or doing say, participant centred training, is the ‘right way’. In fact, I believe that there are many ways of skinning a cat when TEFL, and training, but I do try to, practice what I preach. These approaches to teaching suit me, and mesh well with my background and educational experiences (both as a teacher and student).

Feedback was another term that proved an issue. For me feedback is feedback, explicitly different from error correction, or appraisal. When I asked for feedback, I received (polite) glowing praise, great I thought… My personal feeling about this kind of feedback is that it has little value though, it’s nice to hear, (how does it help me to grow)? My feedback for him, reflected my respect for him as a professional and was questioning and critical of his practice as I am engaged with my own teaching in just this way.

I explained that my exploratory questions were, I thought, in the spirit of our learning, of (our) professional growth. Yet, it became clear, I was off target, had overstepped a boundary, or said something unexpected to a teacher and trainer who had been working for decades (possibly without much observation or appraisal). We smoothed things over before leaving, but we were both a bit off key.

The following day I felt I should apologise for my unsupportive comments, I framed this as a realisation that I needed to be more focused and forward looking in my feedback (something that I strongly adhere to in my teaching) and I made a document to focus the observing trainer. Despite this, at the end of the second day, the time short feedback session was a bit jaded (to be expected I guess).

My co-trainer was interested in the success, or failure of his performance. I was, honestly, offended by the proposition that my role was to judge him. Support him, okay, explore our practice together, fine, but judging him seemed unprofessional to me. This clash in expectations again was based on a contrasting understanding for our motivation for being there. Perhaps he felt I was there to judge him, to report on him (which I am doing now, but writing this blog wasn’t my intention then).

The key thing that I think I learnt from all this, was that giving time before training creates opportunities for relationships to seed. The professor and I have grown closer through this experience, and certainly know each other better, but having more time really would have helped. After sessions time is also an important factor allowing for trainers to de-pressurise before doing peer-feedback.

By smoothing out our expectations, and clarifying our roles, this could have been a smoother experience for us both. At the same time it is a case my co-trainer and I have eventually, been able to learn from this experience. It serves as an example of how you can learn through experiences and how a shared professional culture helped us bridge bigger differences, yet within this community of English Language Teachers (and Trainers) there is also a broad understanding of teaching and learning.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rugby in Palestine

Rugby in Palestine
It is of little surprise and considerable annoyance that I cant get a game of rugby in Palestine when this sort of thing happens http://ramallahramblings.blogspot.com/2012/02/now-its-personal.html#more
and the Israeli club playing from Jerusalem move to a hill top the wrong -side of town for me.....getting un-fitter by the day

Monday, February 13, 2012

guess the grade for my narrative inquiry paper - bids pls

I try to discourage my students from doing it, but I too, am concerned about my performance in my last MA module, Developing Researcher Competence. There are a number of reasons for this, but mainly that this was a new approach to doing things. I moved from an etic, to an emic approach: previously my research had been about me in my class, suddenly it was about other people in strange lands (well not that strange, but you get the picture, I hope)

That said, I am eager to read my feedback and see my grade tomorrow. I am interested because it's, of course, a great chance to learn. I have found plenty of reward in reading, and listening to (yes, some tutors gave audio feedback) my tutors comments. All of the negative stuff I try to reframe as formative in some way. Writing for journals and conference papers is one way to do this. Up next is my dissertation, so there's plenty of good reason to get really stuck into the feedback given.

The piece I wrote for the DRC was very reflective. It was, I suspect too reflective in it's overall orientation (1/3rd was supposed to be reflections). I also have a number of other predictions. I predict that:
1. My choice of topic was too broad, my assignment was about mapping the CPD context for Palestinian English teachers, but this was too general a starting point.
2. Lack of interrogation of my reasons for responding in the ways I did. The reasons I gave seemed very 'basic', e.g. not enough time.
3. I didn't link between the three sections well, in fact i didn't link between the three parts of the paper at all. I think this would have helped me get more in, and avoided repetition...
4. repetition, see above
5.I forgot to include an avenue of thought that may have helped me in my analysis, this was to employ a quantitative tool like ATLAS, or another concordance tool.
6. My analysis lacked focus, I said stuff, which may be interesting, but there wasn't an approach governing my analysis. For example, I could have looked at the symbolic nature of language, or interpreted the instrumental function of aspects of the story...either way an approach rather than all approaches may have worked better for me..
7. I think the process of story-telling can be a beneficial, developmental (co-operative development-esque) and therapeutic experience for the person doing the telling, yet i didn't say this in my rationale for choosing this approach to data generation...It is also beneficial to developing a sense of our professional community and yet I failed to mention this too.
8. Finally, I think I was really overly political in my writing.

My friends Joe, Emma, and Adam were really helpful in their editing (thanks) and their comments have informed some of these comments above. Anyway, what's done is done. For sure I need to plan much better for my dissertation, both structurally and my time in order to have success. One of the major problems with this piece was that I was writing, planning, analysing data, organising very much at the same time (as i was behind schedule). This is best avoided if I want to do myself justice in the dissertation.

I will be getting the results on valentines day at 9am GMT, so post your predictions if you like.

Love you bye ;)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Arna's children

I stumbled across this on the Ramallah Rugby Club's facebook page - al Am'ari exiles. It's a feature length documentary Arna's children. I am pretty amazed, and disturbed, by the homevideo footage of these boys growing up in Jenin, a town I led a workshop at two weeks ago. It was the only place I heard the sound of Israeli artillery / bombs going off, down the valley (training exercises I am told). The teachers were completely unphased and called it normal.

In the video below the tale begins by focusing on the Arna, a Jewish, cancer victim, zionist fighter, communist theatre / community leader mother, who marries a Palestinian. In this gradually unfurling story we see how she tries to channel refugee children's suffering through theatre and art. Many of the children in the film are innocent 8-10year olds who go on to die fighting the Israeli occupation, or as suicide bombers as part of the al-Aqsa Intifada (see 21.30-22.30mins).

What initially just struck me from an education perspective was (at around 16mins) the boys in their psycho-drama session act out a scene from their school English class. In this scene 'the teacher' beats the kids for not standing when he enters the classroom. The kids lack of discipline continues as they get struck again for not knowing the alphabet... Have a watch and see what you think...

It made me wonder about the role of discipline in schools, and particularly in the language classroom. A lot of the teachers who I work with are concerned about this aspect, particularly pre-service teachers. This week we were focusing on the benefits of positive reinforcement and praise, at Hebron University,among other things, but I wonder to what extent this has been individuals experiences. What upset me (from a 'teaching and learning'perspective)in the above clip is that the teacher didn't teach anything, just started off by testing and then punished the kids for not knowing. Okay, these kids aren't pedagosists, but they understood their was an issue with their treatment. It's also noteworthy that it was English class, but the only English spoken is: "good morning".

The complexities of this film are massive, you have a female Jewish matriarch and her Jewish, Israeli sons working with young Palestinian boys. The boys find an outlet through the freedom theatre project, but were initially very suspicious of Arna and her family. I wonder to what extent this is the case for teachers I work with: how trusting are they of me? The relationships I have with most of the teachers I work with is usually too brief, and there's not alot of time for 'getting to know each other' building trust, or socialising. I think this social element, rapport, all takes time.

It's a tragedy, in which everyone dies. Jules, the narrator in much of the movie and theatre director was also killed last year Despite the tragic deaths of many involved the symbolic theatre lives on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ramallah in my own pictures

Roof of the music NGO, can't remember the name, but amazing architecture.

Kamil Altodaan AloTnee...no idea what that means....but can read it, i think...dripping blood..how much blood???

music school sign

In the autumn there was a kind of arab spring megalith, full of posters and images of, about and from the region. I like the domino effect in this one... perhaps they will all fall....

i particularly like Mubarak's nose in this one...

I can't read what's written on Assad's face here...

This is a nice looking building in the old part of town....

Ramallah, my daily place of pilgrimage...my dear sister had to google 'what' it was...For those who don't know it's the defacto capital of Palestinian Occupied Territory. Most of the governments, ministries and foreign organizations are here. I rather like it...:)