Times of London falsely reports apartheid-style “bus ban on Palestinians”

UK Media Watch

Despite what Times of London claims in an Oct. 28th story by Gregg Carlstrom, there is no ‘apartheid-style’ proposal by Israeli officials to ‘ban Palestinians from riding Israeli buses’.

According to Haaretz (and other media sites which covered the story), the new security edict being proposed by the Defense Ministry would require Palestinian laborers who enter Israel through the Eyal checkpoint (mostly those heading to work in Tel Aviv or central Israeli towns) to head home at night through the same IDF checkpoints from which they entered.  Previously, on the return trip back into the West Bank, Palestinian workers were free to choose alternative routes which would allow them to get closer to their homes and with less delay – including those bus lines passing straight through checkpoints and stopping at settlements.

Reportedly, the new proposed rules would only apply to the Eyal checkpoint and not initialy apply to those entering…

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Visual Storytelling: Tips from Photographer Laura Cook

The Daily Post

There’s a difference between photography and visual storytelling. You can easily take a photograph, but not all photographs tell rich stories.

You’ve heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” many times, right? As a photographer, I believe this is true when we dedicate ourselves to seeking out images that really tell a story.

We often take images that are part of a set or portfolio, but it’s also important to seek out pictures that can stand alone — that invite you in and make you feel like part of one particular story. Our camera is a tool we use to tell that story, to capture not only a moment in time but also something bigger.

Laura Cook is a humanitarian and travel photographer who spends most of her year in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She loves meeting new people, and through her work, strives to highlight human dignity amid life’s struggles.

Laura blogs at The…

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Review “The Boy in Stripped Pyjamas” by John Boyne

Bruno is a quiet, but intelligent and adventurous 9 year old living in the centre of a bustling and crowded Berlin during the early years of the Second World War. He lives with his well-to-do family in a rambling house, with many rooms and servants and is happy and contented with his lot.

However the book opens with Bruno, his horrid sister Gretal, the “Hopeless Case” as he describes her, Marie their maid, and his parents preparing to leave for the mysterious “Out-With”. Bruno’s father a highly placed Nazi official has been posted their as Kommandant by no less a person than the Fuhrer, described by Bruno as the “Fury”, himself.

Bruno can tell that the uncharacteristically sympathetic connection from the maid and the very reticent and distant behaviour by his glamorous mother suggests that not everyone his happy about this posting, apart from his father who is officious and self-important throughout the story.

From the outset Bruno notices a certain strangeness about “Out-With”. The large impersonal house allocated to them, is isolated in its own grounds. There are no neighbours, and its unsettling in its solitude. Unlike the bustling nature of the Berlin that Bruno has left behind. The house’s interior is cold and dirty with no trace human warmth or previous habitation.

Apart from the family and maid the only other person Bruno sees at first is the cold and unfriendly Lieutenant Kotler who he sees skulking around the house. On inspecting his bedroom Bruno looks out of his sloping window. Standing on tip toes he sees there are neighbours. In a compound at the back of the garden, separated by a wire fence are hundreds of dirty and under nourished men and boys wearing identical ill fitting uniforms which Bruno describes as stripped pyjamas.

Eventually we get introduced to more characters such as Herr Liszt, an elderly pedagogue who tutors the children privately, Pavel the waiter from the other side of the fence, silence, frail and cowed, who we learn much more about as the story progresses. Lieutenant Kotler turns out to be a braggart and sadistic bully who first with Gretal who acts in an embarrassing way.

Bruno is not convinced by the pretence of normality among the adults and asks awkward questions of the adults and tries to engage his sister into trying to work out what the oppressive place is all about. Unfortunately for Bruno there is a conspiracy of silence and avoidance from the adults but this does not deter Bruno from trying to find out what is happening on the other side of the fence.

Boyne is meticulous in describing the world of a slightly odd and solitary boy. He is intelligent and sensitive but the limits of his imagination act as a metaphor for the unconscious avoidance of knowing the truth and this is a reoccurring them throughout the story. Boyne also creates subtle relationships between the characters, with only hints of events and large gaps of knowledge seen from Bruno’s point of view.

The introduction of Shmuel into the story, the boy in stripped pyjamas himself only adds to the opaqueness of Bruno’s world. Bruno meets Shmuel on a day he decides to explore the perimeter fence and sees this tiny boy in an odd uniform sitting crossed legged and alone. This is where there story does start to reach the level of fable as it would have been unlikely that a concentrate inmate would have een allowed out of sight of the guards for long. It is a device used to described the odd friendship between the two boys and add a universalistic element to the story, deliberately drawing on commonality between them such as being the same age and sharing the same birthday.

The strength of Boyne’s fable relies on the somewhat contrived subtleties of the relationship Bruno has with the other characters. Even the oblique references to violence and death are hidden from Bruno, who is a brilliantly drawn as someone who wants to know but doesn’t want to know at the same time. Stylistically then the story is a triumph. Conceptually its ending, which is predictable, borders on cliché.

As a book about the Holocaust which is currently being taught on the GCSE syllabus in the school I am teaching in, I do not find it particularly satisfactory. The universalist message obscures the particularity of the Holocaust, or Shoah, itself and anti-Semitism among Germans and Europeans at the time. There are several characters introduced to whitewash, German attitudes, but in the long run it is the complicity of avoidance and silence which is the main theme. As a work of fiction these dives work very well.

Is Compliance a Learning Disability?

Is Compliance a Learning Disability? On reading this blogpost by ace-d, I was taken back to my own school years at Sir Thomas Abney Primary School, Hackney in the mid-1960s. My rather scary teacher Mr H often got frustrated with me over my failure grasp basic maths. I enjoyed listening to stories, loved history and drawing, but my memories of his lessons consisted of watching various cloud formations on the north London sky-line, making out the shapes of faces, horses, clowns, watching the milky exhausts of aeroplanes across the pure blue.

I also remember his nasal intonations, the way his voice rose and fell when he read the class ” Alice in Wonderland”, his checked cotton shirts, his frown the grey comb over which flopped away from his bald pate as he chased a naughty boy around the playground,  and NHS glasses. I don’t remember, his lessons, but I do recall his huge hands and noise they made on child’s backside when he caught him. A dull heavy clapping. Quite Buddhist I suppose as it was done with only one hand.

But I can’t remember what he taught me. Not one lesson is recalled, and it has nothing to do with time and distance because I do remember more clearly other lessons from other teachers going back decades.

The author describes three types of pupils/learners. The apparently success and skilled who have the ability to adapt to any learning environment and do well in most subjects. The second, a group I tend to teach, who are disruptive, have pragmatic linguistic and other problems, who are openly out of sync with the learning environment and who, and author does not directly broach this subject, become labelled and if they are lucky statemented as Adhd, ASD, behavioural problems, possibly dyslexic with all the other cocktail of symptoms and so on.

The third, and I would say is the most common, the compliant. These are learners who are often quiet, avoid getting into trouble and attracting attention, many excel in some subjects but fail in others and they often graze along on the middle or lower streams. I would add they leave schools and colleges with a stronger sense of under achievement than others.

The author demonstrates how LQ ( Learning Intelligence) needs to be applied to these learners. What does this mean? A change or flexible approach to their learning environments. Unlike the first group who adapt to the envionments and the second group who through their behaviour attempt to change it, this group checks out.
unfortunately, even with the current policies on educational choice, the choices centre more around governance in schools rather experimenting with the school environment, and I have not come across evidence where the traditional classroom/ teacher format in urban schools has

been challenged. In the mean time check out of my blog and read ace-d’s excellent article.


Teacher and Class 3

As teachers we know that our classes can fall into three groups, this is especially evident at reporting time.

There are those that do well, are active participants in the learning, question and who are confident. You know these well and find it easy to say something about their progress, attitudes, and behaviours. “Well done. Keep it up”

There are those who have presented challenges, often of a behavioural or engagement in nature. Once again you know these well and you do not struggle to offer advice on how to do better next year. “Learn to focus and avoid distractions”

The last group are not so well known to you. They are often quiet, do as they are told and take up little of your time. In short they are compliant and when it comes to writing reports often provide the biggest challenge. “…. .”

The size…

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Why Should I Teach?

In his book ” The Extra One Per Cent”, the psychologist Rob Yeung describes various mind sets which distinguishes the high achiever in any profession, vocation or activity from those who are average to poor in the same activities. According to Yueng it has little to do with educational attainment, background, or IQ. It seems to boil down to certain behaviours which add up to only that one per cent you need to succeed. Drawing on many various sources such as the ideas of the idea of ” Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology), Carol Dweck’ and her studies on ” Mindset” http://www.mindsetonline.com/  he explores how cherishing others, experiencing awe and having fun enhances your performance at work. Makes you more effective, productive and ultimately more successful.

Which brings me to the work with kids I will call, for want of a better term “reluctant learners”. I teach one-to-one in a boys school, and concentrate mainly on a subjects I love, which is English language and writing. The challenge is to communicate my enthusiasism to youngsters who, too put it bluntly, hate being confronted with a sense of failure every day and resenting being reminded of it just by the very fact of me taking them out of lessons and teaching them separately. I do not work in a typical school. However what I have noticed among boys, and no doubt girls, being forced to do things they find difficult a natural battle of resistance forms. Disruption, diversion, cheekiness, changing the subject all being tactics to avoid the discomfort of true confrontation which is staring at a page or screen with meaningless words.

Here we have the opposite of flow and a mindset which precludes openness and creativity for a subject which can liberate tem. Unfortunately its the paucity of words and the unimaginative learning materials provided creates a prison of inarticulateness which prevents my learners from really moving on. Years of feeling dumb in any subject takes its toll. The challenge is always to motivate them to just start to open up and see what they can achieve.

This where my question, ” Why Should I Teach?” come in and why Yueng is relevant. My own view is that the learners in question have been taught by practitioners so bored and ground down themselves by  the (non) educational process that they have failed to communicate their enthusiasm for their for their subjects and for teaching itself . Also the schools fail to notice or act on the needs of so called “borderline” pupils. So the dreamers, the Adders ( those with ADHD) and the “lazy beggers” get left behind, and that is where I come in.

For the work of Rob Yueng see http://www.robyeung.com/