Archive for Students

Weird Class

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , on 17/03/2011 by arabrhizome

I just got home. I’m really tired. I’ve been up for over 24 hours and I’m really tired. I have a “funny” story to tell you, however, I’m too tired to type it up right now. So I’m just going to lock in this post and then write the story later. I hope you forgive the devious tactics but I’m not sure I’m going to wake up before the deadline for the post and I don’t want to miss a day. Also, the story is quite interesting and I’d like to tell you all about it, but it requires me to be fully awake to give it justice. I might be building it up a bit too much. I mean it’s an interesting story, but it’s not super special. So Again, sorry for the underhanded technique and I’ll see you later for the post proper. Bye for now.

Hey, so as promised I will now tell you about my day today. Well as I had said I was up all day and night and made my way down to university in the morning. I had to teach a class at 13:00. I got to university around 9:30 and was pleasantly surprised to find that our Postgraduate room was fitted with new computers. They were PCs but they were nice and shiny. The monitors are huge. The best thing about them though were the keyboards. Our old keyboards were quite uncomfortable and not very friendly for typing over a long period of time.

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. So I sent emails and did some admin work waiting for my class. I made my way there and was ready for a nice presentation. I got in, most of the students were there, but some were missing. That’s not anything new students are always a little late. However 5 minutes in the hour it was clear that about 4 students weren’t going to make it. I asked for the group who was supposed to present to step up and then it became clear that they were the ones missing. I have to say I was quite surprised and bothered.

The presentations are a key part of the hour. I don’t understand why people would miss it. It’s not like they’re graded, so there is very little pressure on them. If they don’t do a good job, it’s okay since I will take over and cover everything they missed. I had to do their job and do a lot ore work than I expected. I am going to report them to the module convenor tomorrow and let him deal with them. I am really disappointed as I like that section. I like them because they laugh at my jokes, I am pathetic. Anyway, the hour went well, but it required me to do a lot more work than I expected to do. I had been awake for more than 24 hours after all.

Anyway, I went back home after than and went to sleep. I woke up to the news that the UNSC had passed a resolution that imposes a no fly zone over Libya. Now if you’ve been following me on twitter, you’d know that I was in support of the NFZ, as Gaddafi’s jets gave him an unfair advantage. I’m hoping that this resolution isn’t used by the West in order to justify extensive military action. They need to be careful not to let themselves be carried away and over reach in Libya. Anyway, good luck to the Libyans, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, the Palestinians, and all the other revolutionaries around.

Teaching

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , on 01/03/2011 by arabrhizome

This is going to be a short post, I’m exhausted and getting ready to go to bed. I slept at about 13:00 yesterday afternoon and woke up at 21:30. I spent the night trying to work but not succeeding. I got really sleepy around 4:00 but couldn’t sleep then, because I needed to teach today. So I fought against my urge to sleep and then made my way to university as soon as I felt it was appropriate. I knew that if I stayed home I might accidently pass out and find that I missed my classes, which is unthinkable. Anyway, I made it to university and started caffeinating myself. I knew that my only hope to be able to teach something useful would be to be wired on that.

Anyway, my classes were very much an exact replica of last week’s. In the first one the students gave a perfectly adequate presentation that involved a fair amount of research. It was very good for their level. In fact, I’m being slightly unfair at the time I felt very happy with it. Yes, some of the students were shaky a bit, but that’s understandable they’re nervous. But most of the relevant information was there and they used powerpoint extremely effectively.

The came the second class. Remember those were excellent last week. I thought that I would never hit the jackpot twice and get a presentation that was 4th year level, I was fucking wrong (For all the prudes reading this: the use of the expletive is necessary and fully justified as it is used in this instance as an adjective that intensifies the sense of the following word. So Shut the fuck up! Now that one wasn’t necessary but I thought fuck it why not. What are you going to do about it?). This presentation was excellent. It covered everything. There was nothing missing at all. They had done tons of research and knew how to use it. They were selective and only used things that made sense and were relevant. I loved it.

After that I had to try to stay awake for 2 more hours before my last class. Now remember last week, I told you it was really bad. I mean they had no powerpoint presentation. It is necessary to have one for this presentation as it is about interpreting a piece of art. They only lasted about 5 minutes, when it should have been 15-20. So I thought no one can do this badly, I was fucking wrong (read last note about use of expletive fuckwit). This time the presentation did last about 18 minutes, but I wished it had lasted only 5. Again they had no powerpoint, even though I had told them to use one. One of the students actually read the wikipedia entry on the subject as is, in a monotone voice while mumbling. It was painful. One of the students was projecting and intoning her voice correctly and engagingly, however the lack of a visual stabiliser, in the form of notes on the screen, meant that most of what she said wasn’t heard properly or was forgotten very quickly.

Anyway, I felt like I had to say something and I did. I tried to be gentle but I couldn’t make it sound like that was okay. So I hammered the point through. Use powerpoint, reading a wikipedia post isn’t a presentation, and please make sure everyone can hear you. I finished my classes and just couldn’t stay in university. So I came back home and watched some tv. Now I’m ready to sleep, and look at that I actually wrote a normal length post. So anyway, I hope you enjoyed my gushing/moaning about my students, now I shall go to sleep and prepare for what will be a very depressing birthday tomorrow. Good night.

Supervision and Teaching

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , on 22/02/2011 by arabrhizome

It’s going to be a short one today I’m afraid. Also, it’ll be about my life and not politics or the revolution. So today involved me going to University in order to teach and also in order to be chastised for my lack of productivity in a mid day supervision. Let’s begin by talking about the teaching. I’m a seminar leader in this first year module. Basically students give a 20 minutes presentation and then I take over and basically fill in the blanks. I had three sections to go through today. I like this class, as it is quite easy and quite pleasant. It’s nice to see the students’ minds open up and expand as they start to get more and more intellectually stimulated.

Anyway, the first class went fine. The presentation was pretty much what I expected. It was very much what one would expect. The second presentation however blew my mind away. It was fantastic. It was a truly complete and perfect presentation. I really didn’t expect this from first years. It was easily on the level of final years. I was riding high. I was really proud of my students. However, I was brought back to earth by the third presentation. It was awful. 5 minutes, no powerpoint, even though it’s about interpreting art. So that was a real downer. But I explained that the next presentations need to be better.

Finally, let’s talk about my supervision. I have been writing about the fact that I am quite late with my thesis and not really able to work for a while now. The fact that I was going to be chastised by my supervisors was a matter of time. Today was the day. They were very nice still, but made it clear that if I don’t produce something soon I would be in real trouble. We have now drawn a very tight schedule. I need to write up this chapter in 2 weeks, and then write another one 5 weeks after that. I’m hoping to do that. However, this would mean not doing much that is not work. So all I’m saying is that I might still write a few long posts from time to time, but most of them in the next 2 months will be short. Anyway, that’s all from me now. Good night you lovely readers.

Back to Action

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Friends, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 14/12/2010 by arabrhizome

Right so as I said yesterday, today’s post was going to see this post back to regular service. In other words, you would all indulge me in my naval gazing and other self centred writings. Now, I have been a bit of a recluse last week, both in the real world and over here in virtual land. Which means that I don’t really have much to talk about in relation to last week. However, yesterday involved me going out of the house, properly not just to the supermarket. And as I did that things happened. Nothing ground breaking but general stuff. In fact, it was a little bit overwhelming at first. But I got through it and I’m still here so that’s good.

Anyway, so I woke up and went out to uni. I needed to return a book to the library. What I did however, is renew it, as I didn’t really read it all this time. I then went to A’s house. He leaves for the holidays on Tuesday, and I wanted to hang out with him before he goes. We had an excellent time. We played video games and just had a nice time. C was there as well. It was very nice talking to her also. She’s a very nice and funny woman and I always have fun with her. We decided that after the holidays we’ll have a marathon Black Adder weekend/week/a few days peppered around a given period of time. I realise that the last option makes it less like a marathon and more like just watching Black Adder. But hey we’ll see then.

We tried to watch the game, Manchester United against Arsenal for those who aren’t football savvy (That’s okay I know not everyone likes football and I don’t judge), but the connection to the internet wasn’t good enough. So I helped A pack up his car and then made my way back home. I couldn’t sleep until very late at night, but in this time I discovered a very disgusting thing that got me very worked up. In fact, I can say that I am still very worked up about it. So here’s the story as I got it online:

I was on twitter and someone retweeted a video from a mobile phone during the protests last week. It shows a police officer dragging a disabled man off of his wheelchair and on the floor, before another police man comes and moves him away from his victim. The video is quite disturbing as you can hear the people around shouting in disbelief. This is at best police brutality and shameful behaviour and at worst a criminal offence. Here is that video.

Anyway, that’s not the end of the story. On Monday at 20:00 the young man who was dragged appeared on the BBC news channel for an interview, His name is Jody McIntyre and here’s a link to his blog. The man is an activist and has certainly become a little bit of a hero of mine. But anyway, this is not about me saying nice things about him, it’s about telling you what happened. So, back to twitter land, many people were linking to it and being disgusted by the interviewer a hack that calls himself a journalist but is nothing more than a bully and an apologist for brutality. Here’s that interview. Now, I don’t want to insult your intelligence by going through every single wrong thing in this interview. Anyone who reads this blog is clearly displaying a very high degree and level of intellect, I am therefore sure that you will be as disgusted and outraged as I am.

I will however point out a couple of things. Jody McIntyre has shown incredible dignity and poise in the face of an outrageous line of questioning that tried to somehow justify what was done to him. This ‘journalist’ was engaging in victim blaming. It was great to see him destroyed by Mr McIntyre’s calm and articulate responses. My favourite was when he told him that this kind of victim blaming is reminiscent of the BBC’s coverage of Palestine. I was particularly reminded of the way in which the survivors of the flotilla attack were ‘interviewed’, it was more like they were interrogated. The BBC ‘journalists’ would adopt a hostile and brazen attitude with them, asking them the same questions again and again, even after getting reasonable answers. The survivors had to justify themselves, in the same way that Jody had to justify himself in that interview. Again and again the BBC is failing to distinguish between victim and criminal.

The other thing I wanted to point out, was the fact that Jody’s political views were used by Ben Brown (Brown like poo! ha! That’s right I brought you down with my wit and verbal dexterity)to again try and justify the unjustifiable. A man was tipped over his wheel chair and then dragged across the pavement, whether that man was a revolutionary or not is irrelevant. Also, I don’t think that someone’s political views justify them being beaten up, at least that’s what democracy seems to be about.

Anyway, I complained to the BBC and I urge you all to complain as well. I especially urge you if you are a UK citizen and pay the license fee. This man, Ben Brown, is paid with our money and he needs to realise that this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable. He should issue a public apology as well as a personal one to Jody McIntyre, failing that he needs to be sacked. But more importantly the BBC need to know that we expect better from them. This kind of stunt is expected when it comes to fake news outlets like Sky or Fox, but not from the BBC.

Well that’s it from me. I think we can all agree that this post represents a real return to form from me. There was laughs, tears, righteous anger, completely uninteresting discussions of my comings and goings, and of course a postmodern poo joke. I think this bodes well for the future posts on this blog. See you all tomorrow.

Teaching, Occupation, and Emo Snowman

Posted in Culture, Friends, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 03/12/2010 by arabrhizome

So Thursday was my last day of seminars for this term, I still have to do a workshop next week but that’s just one hour. I plugged the occupation and was happy to see that most of my students were actually quite excited about it. It was nice to see that they care. You should all know that Nottingham is known as a school for posh kids who didn’t make it into Cambridge or Oxford. Of course that’s not true of everyone, but there is a high concentration of quite apathetic entitled brats. Yet these students were all outraged by the hike in tuition fees, and they all seemed to understand the subtleties of the proposed system, as well as its place within the whole regime of cuts. People keep saying that kids today are stupid, well these ones sure are smarter then most adults.

I had watched the Newsnight episode with one of the Cambridge student occupiers and was appalled, although sadly not surprised, by the complete and utter patronising attitude of the ‘grown ups’. They kept implying that the students don’t really understand what they’re doing and that protesting is just something one does when they are students. They really don’t understand that this generation is actually quite politicised. They cared about Iraq, they care about Palestine, and now they care about the direction the UK is taking. They aren’t good for nothings. They are intelligent and caring. I think that this generation will effect change and I do believe that the next few years will be very interesting.

Anyway, we got news that the registrar had ordered the students to leave by 4:00 or they would be evicted. We all made our way there then to show solidarity and to be numerous. There was a very high number of people, including a few faculty members, as well as many Trent students, and some college students. The atmosphere was very cool. Everyone was having a good time and some great conversations were going on. People were discussing theory and practice, past political movements, and the current climate. It felt like I was in one of 1968’s amphitheatres and occupied rooms at the height of the student movement.

Well I still had to teach another class, so I left and it seemed that the threat was never going to materialise. I think the registrar thought that by scaring them they would leave voluntarily. How wrong he was. So after my class I went to C and A’s house and we played with the snow. It was great having snowball fights and running around. When we were done with that we decided to build a snowman in their back garden. So we made our way there and got to work.

It was great fun and by the end we had one of the coolest snowmen around. He had a mohawk that we painted grey. He had black eyes that looked that they were done with runny mascara and a bloody mouth. He was quite the sight. I will hopefully put the pictures up if I ever get them. After that we ordered pizza and played a bit of FIFA. Later I made my way back home, wrote my blog and hoped to go to sleep early, although I didn’t, as I was going to go to Leicester on Friday in order to pick up my now fixed laptop. I will tell you all about this tomorrow, so you should comeback to my blog in order to know what happened.

Occupation, Disruption, and Stand Up Comedy

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 02/12/2010 by arabrhizome

So we were supposed to have a WIP on Wednesday, but the colleague who was supposed to present couldn’t make it into uni. She lives in Leeds and she was stuck at Sheffield unable to make it because of the snow. She left with plenty of time but ended up being stuck on the road. We decided to postpone it until next week, hoping that the conditions would be better then. This meant that I was able to attend the general meeting at the Nottingham uni occupation.

It was really nice seeing all these youngsters caring about the future of education in this country. I was also very happy to see one of my students there. I made a few points about using twitter more effectively. It seemed to go down well. The main problem is that uni has cut off wifi for them, so I stressed the fact that they could use twitter through their 3G network. Other occupations have used it very effectively.

I was outraged that heating was cut off, although since then it was turned back on. This is a  basic right that was denied by the management. I have to say that I am highly unimpressed by the management’s response to the occupation. They have been treating them like terrorists, refusing to even engage in conversation with them. The students have been very careful not to cause any disruption and are allowing anyone who needs the space to use it as they wish. For example the dance club used it for their dance lessons without any problem.

I then made my way back home in order to try and do some work until the evening. We were going to watch Rohd Gilbert live. I wasn’t able to get very far but made a proper effort. My deadline is getting closer and closer and I am still very far off the word limit I need to get to. The problem I’m having is that I still haven’t really clarified my argument for this chapter in my head. I’m not yet sure what this chapter’s argument is and how I’m proposing to expose it. Anyway, enough moaning about that.

So we decided to go at 7:00, the show was supposed to start at 8:00. We thought that this way we were sure to make it on time. In fact we got there with 40 minutes to go. We ended up having a few gyozas at Wagamama and got in just in time for the beginning of the show. It was basically a two part show with a support act, then an interval, and then the main show.

The support act was very good. It was his room mate Lloyd Langford. He did a 25 minutes long set. It was quite good. Then after the interval we got to watch Rohd’s highly polished show. I was very impressed with the structure of the show. He paced it quite well, although I have to admit that it dragged a bit by the end. I mean the whole thing was constructed very well and everything seemed to lead towards the climactic end, but it was a bit long. I think that he went on for about 2 hours. I mean it’s great value for money, but I could have used an interval in the middle.

Anyway, that was basically my Wednesday. I could have written a but more, but I am in a bit of a mood and just want to go and feel sorry for myself for a bit. So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for another post. Oh and by the way, this was my 200th post. I wanted to celebrate that a bit. But I’m really not in the mood.

Student Protests, Bad Comedy, and Beautiful Snow

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2010 by arabrhizome

Well Tuesday was quite an interesting day. I woke up quite late, this was the first time my late nights had an effect on my waking up in a while. I knew that today was a national day of action by students against the new cuts and hikes in tuition fees. I turned on the tv to see what’s going on, I also had my twitter in front of me. The students in London were a lot more proactive this time around. When they started making their way to the houses of parliament and saw that the police were going to probably kettle them, they started running around the London streets making the police chase them.

It was fantastic to watch the police having trouble catching up with the students. There were protests and marches all over the country, including here in Nottingham. In fact, on Tuesday Nottingham uni went into occupation. The students are occupying the great hall. Here is their website, here’s their twitter account, and here;s their facebook page. They need the following items: we need washing up liquid & cloths, bedding, dongles for internet, electric heaters, food, art materials (paint/cloth/card/pens), 1st aid kit, music, films, money, books, games. If you’re around go visit them and donate what you can. Their in the great hall in the trent building. The management has cut off their internet as well as their heating. I think this is outrageous as we are experiencing extremely cold temperatures. In fact, the forecast for Thursday night is of -7.

I was so proud to see that students all over the country were willing to brave the very heavy snow and very cold weather to make themselves heard. Nick Clegg had sent a letter saying that these protests will dissuade poor kids from going to uni. It is very strange to see someone so self deluded and who has insured that his party will never get in power again. He is accusing the students of being the reason why poor kids won’t want to go to uni, rather than the trebling of fees and the fear of being in debt from so early on in their lives.

Anyway, the day ended with the police kettling students at Trafalgar square. It is quite disturbing to see how the police reacts to peaceful students standing up for their rights. I am very proud of these kids who are proving all the scheptics wrong by actually being politicised and caring about their future. A great number of universities are being occupied and the social networks have become the modern tools of rebellion and protest.

Throughout the day I had my curtains open and was watching the beautiful snow falling. I love snow. I can’t express how much I love it. It’s one of the most beautiful things in the world. It is one of the greatest things to experience. I know that it can be annoying for people who need to use their cars, etc. But it’s still lovely.

Anyway, later that evening I watched the new channel 4 comedy offerings. First on was Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. Now I really liked him on Mock the Week, and I always felt that even though his comedy was often quite offensive, it always felt like it had some point to it. However, that show was horrible. He was clearly so intent on being edgy and pushing the envelop as far as possible that he forgot that he needed to be funny. There was a particularly horrible sketch in which he uses the F word to talk about gay people. There was no point to the sketch except to mock homosexuality and make it sound like it is wrong to be gay. I was really annoyed by it.

After that I watched the Morgana show. She basically has a series of characters and they’re supposed to be funny. I have to say that I didn’t laugh once, I didn’t even manage to smile. Most of characters were so cartoonish that there was absolutely no subtlety to the comedy. The laughter track, which was supposed to prompt us into laughing made it even worse. But the most horrible bit about is a character called Guilbert. Guilbert is a young boy who suffers from learning disabilities and that’s the joke. I was appalled.

For fuck’s sake we’re in the twenty first century and some channel 4 producers thought that it was okay to broadcast a homophobic sketch and a sketch mocking learning disability. As some of you remember, I was very critical of stand up for the week because it didn’t involve any real subtlety and seemed to be full of misogynistic and borderline racist comedy. Well stand up for the week is the epitome of subtlety compared to these two quite poor offerings by channel 4 comedy. I was very angry about what I had just witnessed and will not watch these shows again.