Archive for Teaching

Last Day of Teaching

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , on 24/03/2011 by arabrhizome

That’s it, I’m done teaching for this term. It’s been an enjoyable run. I like teaching this particular module. Now all that is left is to mark the essays that I will get at some point after Easter. I don’t mind marking that much. I just mind that it eats into my work time. I need to write and read a lot, and the marking for this class will take a few days. I need to finish as much as possible by the time I get the copies to mark. For now I’m really tired and I’m going to go to bed soon.

I just wanted to point out that a lot is happening in the Arab world at the moment. Things seem to be escalating in Syria, Bahrain is still a mess, Yemen is also heating up, Jordan seems to be gaining momentum, some interesting subversive stuff is happening in Saudi, and Egypt might be hijacked by counter revolution. My position on Libya is still unclear. I have to admit that I’m not very happy with the way it turned out there. I’m still unsure what to think. Anyway, that’s all my clouded sleepy brain can process at the moment. I might write more extensively about what’s happening tomorrow, although I’m not promising anything. For now, I bid you good night.


Crossing the Picket Line

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , on 22/03/2011 by arabrhizome

So I had to do something I absolutely abhor today. I had to cross a picket line and not participate in a strike action that I completely agree with. You see today the lecturers are striking to protest changes that are about to be introduced to the pension scheme. Now I am on the side of the lecturers and would have been right there on the picket line. The problem is that I’m not in the union, for various reasons, also that I am paid by the hour, and so this doesn’t affect me at the moment, as nothing goes to my pension. I am aware that if I’m lucky enough to find a job in this country then it will be my problem. I would also have shown solidarity if it didn’t affect me.

The thing is I’m not able to strike and that’s that. I asked my module convenor and  he explained that I would have caused a lot of problems for my department if I did. I really like my department and don’t want them to suffer. Also, this was my last session this term and rescheduling them would have been a nightmare. All of this might seem incidental but it’s quite important. Also, I need the cash, no matter how little it is. So I found myself in this horrible situation where I had to cross the picket line and go teach. I feel bad about it, but I really had no choice. I still hope that the action was successful and that those horrible changes don’t happen.

In teaching news, it was my last session with these students, as I mentioned before. I have to say that the students of my second section are just fantastic. They scored a four for four in their presentations. Every single on of their presentations has been perfect. I am going to miss them the most, and it’s not only because they laugh at my jokes. They were always engaged and ready to participate. Also all of their participation was great. I have high hopes for this group of students. If they keep being this serious they will do well.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it from me. It’s not exactly a full post but it’s getting there. I am very sleepy and tired. I think that I will just relax for a bit before going to sleep soon. I also need to catch up on today’s news. I just got back from university and haven’t exactly been keeping up to date. Things seem to be accelerating in Yemen and Libya, Syria is escalating, and Bahrain is a mess. I wish luck to all the brave revolutionaries around and I hope that they achieve victory against the tyrannical rulers and systems that they are trying to overcome. It is an exciting time to be alive. The world is changing, hopefully for the better. I cannot wait for the revolution to move to Palestine and liberate it from zionism and racism. For now I say good bye to you.

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.


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.

Semi-Productive Day

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , on 24/02/2011 by arabrhizome

So I had a semi-productive day today. It started quite badly with me oversleeping and waking up quite late. I had to teach at 13:00 and woke up at 12:00. So I didn’t have time to take a shower and just got ready and ran to university. The problem is I spent most of the night last night staying up watching poetry on youtube. I mainly watched Def poetry jam stuff. It started with this poem by Amir Sulaiman called Danger. My favourite line in this one is: “I am a Palestinian teenager opening fire at an Israeli check point, point blank checkmate now what!” Wow! I then mainly watched poems by Suheir Hammad, who is just wonderful. Here are a couple for you to enjoy: here and here. The second one is one of my all time favourite poems.

I have always had a bit of a problem with poetry. It never really touched me. But I guess I just never really heard it and seen it performed. Also, I probably never heard poetry that spoke to me, like the words of Suheir Hammad or Amir Sulaiman or Mark Gonzales, here‘s one of his poems. I think that I like the hip hop inspired urban poetry. After all I loved hip hop in the 1980s and 1990s, back when it wasn’t all N words, B words, guns and bling. What I saw in these poems is that questioning spirit. Also, the way they weild words and perform their poems is incredible.

Anyway, So I woke up late and ran to university. My class was okay and then I sat in the post grad room and tried to get some work done. I didn’t get much writing done, but a lot of reading, which is really good. I am going to try to wake up early tomorrow and make my way to university before noon. I need to continue reading, but more importantly I need to get back to writing. I think I’m on my way there. I just hope  I can make my deadline. Anyway, that’s all from me today. I’m tired and hoping to go to sleep at a normal hour, will I though? I’ll let you know tomorrow.

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.

Quick Message

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/02/2011 by arabrhizome

I know I’ve been prefacing my posts by saying tht they will be short this time, and then going on to write quite long ones. However, this one will in fact be short. This is due to three main reasons: I didn’t really follow the news today, I’m exhausted, and I need to work. On that last point, I finally managed to write a bit today. It’s nothing close to what I need to write, but it’s better than nothing. On the second point, I’ve been struggling with my sleep for a very long time, and a quick look at previous posts will tell you that this has been a chronic problem of mine. I am hoping to sleep at a normal time today, so that’s good. I have to teach tomorrow. It’s not really a problem since they’re introductory seminars, but still I’m hoping to go there refreshed.

On the first point, because I’ve been trying to work, I haven’t been glued to the internet today, watching Al Jazeera and reading twitter. However, I have two good news to share with you. One, Ayman Mohyeldin is now free. He was released yesterday after about 10 hours of detention. He’s talked about it on Al Jazeera and I urge you to watch his interview. Clearly the army is putting pressure on protesters and journalists, in a bit of an underhanded way. The regime hasn’t stopped harassing, intimidating, and repressing the protests. It’s just doing it in a more subtle and covert way. Second, Wael Ghonim one of the major figures of this movement has been released as well. He became a sort of symbolic leader of the protests. He was arrested on the 27th or 28th. He is one of the organisers of the protests. His release was a major demand of the protesters. It would be interesting to see what he has to say.

But before I leave you tonight, dear readers (many of whom are new and by the way welcome to you all I really appreciate the fact that you find my thoughts interesting), I would like to share a concern that’s been growing for me about the revolution. I am really starting to fear for the revolution, especially since the meetings behind closed doors that have started yesterday. Clearly the established political parties, which had nothing to do with the movement, are trying to co-opt it and make some political gains. They are trying to get some concessions by the regime which would allow them to get a bit of power. I am very wary of them. I believe that they would sell the revolution to be part of a new order with the regime.

But I know that the people of Tahrir are aware of that and have rejected the talks and say that they aren’t represented. The fact that no one in those talks is younger than 50 or 60 is proof of that. However, the strategy of staying in Tahrir, while highly symbolic and important, could backfire. The regime has decided to ignore the protesters and treat them like petulant children. If they do not escalate soon, they risk turning into the Lebanese tent city of 2007. Now there are vast differences between the two, as was pointed out on twitter, one is revolutionary and organised organically, the other was not revolutionary and was organised by political parties. However, the result might end up being the same: Stagnation. So my advice to the Tahrir Square revolutionaries is to escalate.

I am aware that it is easy for me to say that from the comfort of my couch, in my living room, in the UK. I am well away from harms way, and I am basically asking people to put their lives on the line, while I don’t have to. However, it might also be that I have a bit of distance while they are too close to it. Of course it goes in the other direction as well. Having distance means I don’t know many things that only people on the ground do. So all I’m saying is that from here it looks like the movement needs to escalate, not because it is losing steam, but because the regime is able to accommodate this level of protest. But again, I am here to support the revolution in anyway I can, and whatever the people decide to do I will support them and be behind them. Well I ended up writing a long one again. I think I’m just getting better at blogging that’s all. Anyway, good night everyone and see you tomorrow.