Saturday, April 30, 2005

A New Beginning Or The Beginning Of The End

And so all good things must come to an end. It is now only a couple of days before I start at the new school and confront the chaos that will no doubt confront me.

For the last few weeks I have actually been home to remind myself of what my family looks like and them what I look like. Of course within two days all the old foibles and behavioural traits that make you made at your family start to surface again. For reasons of cost and practicality I was living with my family whcih made it even worse. I couldnt even say "ok, nice to see you, I am going back to my place now." Sometimes even moving rooms didnt help as within a few minutes someone would appear to find out what I was doing. If I went out, I got the where are you going, meeting someone nice, oooh that will be nice, did you have a good time, when will you be back..... interrogation. My god, my family still thinks I am 6 years old!!

Going round the city centre it seems to have changed quite a bit. There seems to be more hotels, bars and restaurants than ever before. The number of national shop "chains" has definately increased and a lot of the independent shops have closed and been replaced with the anonymous corporate brand image. Thankfully the number of "traditionally authentic" Irish pubs have not increased.

One thing I would like to have done was go round to my sisters a lot more because she has got broadband. Hmmm :) Soulseek is all I will say to you. I only had a little time to use it but it seems to be a better altenative to Kazaa and the like. From what I can see, it has no spy or scumware on it. Still, even with that little time, I managed to download an almost full cd of mp3 songs that I only have on vinyl.

In someways going back was great as you didnt need to bother about the language, you knew everything was going to cost X - even if X is a damm sight more expensive than Thailand. People had the same sort of sense of humour, you didnt need to explain any ironic comment. ( How many thais can you say that about?)

British tv hasnt really improved since I left. Satellite ( Sky ) tv is a full time job trying to find something interesting - at least it sometimes felt like that. It seems to be full of reality shows of one sort or another - house makeover, garden makeover, beauty makeover, job reality programs, and the adverts are all about selling ringtones for mobile phones or personal finance loans for debt reduction.

Some of the wierder ones are those selling stuff or quiz channels where you can win 50 pouns or higher if you phone a premium rate number costing you 1.50 pound a time. Of course they say, they only select one or two people every 5 minutes to actually get on air and answer the question and the more times you phone, the higher the chance of getting on air. Yeh right. They are probably making mega profits on the premium rate phone calls and giving away about 10% of revenue for prizes.

Most of the weather was pretty cold at home - a definite change to here. Some of it was the good cold, that crisp cold you get with blue skies and sun. Unfortunately, it was also the other cold. That raw hard cold that comes down from artic and will cold burn your ears off while blasting your face with 45 degree cold sllet or rain. And yes, one afternoon it actually snowed. Not for long or big flakes but it snowed. I must remember that feeling in the next few weeks when I am waiting for a skytrain drenched in sweat from merely being outside.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Old School

OK, it's been a while since I have posted but as there is very little going on I haven’t really had a reason to post anything!

But to help fill the gap here is a warts and all analysis of the school I worked at.


The rooms we worked in were ours ( with a couple of exceptions ), so we could kit them out really how we wanted. We could put work up on the walls, change the seating arrangements whenever we wanted and so on without someone coming along the next period and changing it back.

The rooms were all air con. A big plus come well actually all year round but especially in the crucial hot and steamy months of June – August ish.

The rooms did have a tape player, tv and video recorder. So I could, if I wanted, play videos for the kids but also play tapes from the books to save my voice and also reinforce the idea that people can speak English slightly differently from the teacher.

The school was actually near my flat so I didn’t need to bother about traffic jams and the like.

We did have the option of having the free school lunch or buying something out the pay canteen or buying something outside. Sometimes the free lunch was actually pretty nice.

We eventually got 4 pcs that we could use for the internet or typing lesson plans or .. actually mostly just using the internet. Which meant I could download a whole load of programs and stuff for free and more importantly quickly onto my flash drive and then take them home.

Most of the buildings were pretty modern so it wasn’t some Dickensian atmosphere with dark damp dungeons and coal cellars.


The rooms did have a tape player, tv and video recorder. This sometimes meant that if other teachers were playing videos all the time, my kids would get to know abput it and every time they went into the class they would chant “tv” “tv” tv” and sometimes even start moving all the desks and sitting on the floor in front of the tv.

The pcs were behind the school firewall so sometimes programs like yahoo went down. It also meant peer to peer programs didn’t work so no kazaa, grokster and so on.

The staffroom was a bit cramped so it was sometimes difficult to move around if somebody had moved their chair to talk with someone else.

The staffroom was tucked away in a little corner in the school grounds so there was very little interactivity between us and the thai teachers. As a general rule we didn’t go into their staffroom and they didn’t go into ours. Which was good in a way, as it gave us space but overall probably harmed us more by not breaking down the barriers between us. It will be interesting to see what happens this coming year when the teachers are all together.

Although the buildings were modern they did share a common problem with other thai buildings and architecture. Sound. Everything was bare stone or wood. The concept of sound baffling definitely seems to have escaped thais. Every room, every corridor, every stairwell reflected, increased sound. It didn’t take many kids talking to raise the noise level to what in the uk could be called legally deafening and requiring ear protectors.

Every so often like every other Thai school we would turn up at the classes and find out that there was no one there. They had been called away for a meeting or activity of some sort. This was sometimes 5 minutes or all lesson but usually we had no idea and just had to wing it.


The Thai teachers. This was a bit funny as it depended on the individuals on both sides. As I said before, the location of our staffroom was not the best as it was in a corner away from all the other staffrooms and I think many people walked by the door without realising that we were actually inside. Some of the teachers wouldn’t return smiles, some would totally blank you every day, some would return smiles and nothing else, some would gradually start to talk to you and so on.