Musings on my adventures around the world and my ties back in Texas as well as some of the the ideas I have to adapt and create to keep those places close to home.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quote of the week

Obviously, you develop a certain amount of thick skin, to let the typical teenage stuff about "It's boring," wash off you. But, ultimately, your ego is on the line. Your identity is on the line. What do I do for a living? I'm a teacher. And so if you get negativism or disinterest or hostility form the class, then that's a real blow. That's a comment on my whole being. i don't know if I'm more vulnerable than other people, but I get my self-worth from this job. And if I'm bombing, then I criticize myself...

-Jessica Siegel
from Small Victories by Samuel Freedman

Thoughts on a first week

It is hard to believe that I'm back at school already (a brief five weeks after leaving school early in Turkey), but I am happy to report that I survived my first week of student in my new school. More than that I am realizing why I made the choice to change schools. I wanted a smaller school, which I definitely got as I teach all of the grade 9 and 10 math classes (there is just one other math teacher in the high school, who also happens to be one of my housemates). I wanted the freedom to teach how I wanted and try out some of my crazy ideas. I've tested that freedom (successfully) already...taping down a coordinate system on the auditorium floor to check and see if my students remembered how to plot points, pulling out individual whiteboards to force each of my students to attempt a problem, putting letters up all around my room to test students ability to name lines, planes, and points meeting specific criteria (I can't tell you how often I heard the question, "Miss, why are there letters all over your room?" although they were surprised when I pointed out there were some on the ceiling as well!). I'm not sure if I'll be able to stay as creative but it is nice to know I do have the freedom to do what I want. Now I just need to work on learning those 90 new names.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What happened to yes?

With eagerness they come
Never told "you can't do that"
or "are you struggling?"
Visions of being a basketball playing
trash collecting doctor in their heads
Recalling their parents saying
"You can do anything you set your mind to"

Put in a group of like minded others
energy feeds off of others
and one idea explodes
into group actions

A little later the child is told "calm down"
"This is how I'd like you to do it"
"You're close, but not right"
and suddenly all actions are graded
If I get a B does that mean I'm not good?
Should I stop trying? Let the best do it?

Why do we stifle the eagerness?
Does it matter how good something is
if the person enjoys it?
Who determines what good and great are anyways?

Perhaps the Renaissance man
need to be re-embraced
with an emphasis on
anyone can do anything...or everything
as long as they will just say
"Yes, I can."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Endings are just new beginnings

An ending is just a new beginning
It is hard to believe that I am writing my last note from Turkey…or perhaps I should say about Turkey as I am no longer there and have actually been gone for a month now. There are so many things that I still wanted to share with you, stories about the crazy wedding dress windows, my love/hate relationship with the airport close to school, the little princes preparing for their circumcision, the giant boots I found on campus….sadly it seems that those are stories which will remain untold. And so I will end my three years of messages with a list of some of the things that I will miss about living in Turkey.
10. Being able to pick up a grilled cheese sandwich from a small kiosk on the side of the road.
9. The goldfish guy on the road leading away from school, stacked up on the hood of his car shaded by an umbrella recently.
8. The large Trojan horse on campus…I still don’t understand why this needs to be in a playground, but it always makes me smile.
7. The crazy things that people sell on the road or the sidewalk…gummy supermen that flip down a wall, wind up chicks, chargers, blow up dalmatians,…I think if you watched long enough you could find almost anything.
6. Being able to surprise people because I can actually speak some Turkish. It doesn’t take must at all to impress the Turks…after all Turkish isn’t what you’d exactly call a common language.
5. The skyline, there is something about all of the minarets that just makes Istanbul seem like such an exotic place. It will take quite a bit to beat that.
4. Browsing the fruit and vegetable market in Kurtkoy, soaking up the cacophony of sounds and colors. It was a sad day when I realized it would be my last visit.
3. Walking downtown during the call to prayer and finding that as soon as I leave the sound of one mosque I enter the audible area for two more.
2. Riding the ferry across the Bosphorus. After three years this is still one of my favorite things to do.
1. The people of course. Friends and coworkers and strangers who are always willing to lend a helping hand and aid in whatever way they can, whether that means answering endless questions, telling me where to get off a bus, or just keeping me company in stressful times. I will dearly miss them all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quote of the week

A traveler's life is one that includes much pain amidst its enjoyments. His feelings are forever on the stretch; and when he begins to sink into repose, he finds himself obliged to quit that on which he rests in pleasure for something new, which again engages his attention, and which also he forsakes for other novelties.

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A woman's touch

the niche
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
A few weeks ago a friend sent me the following link to an article: I was intrigued by the idea of seeing the first mosque in Turkey to be designed by a woman and one day when I had an extra hour to kill I set of to see it. A brief ten minute bus ride took me to Uskudar. I was a bit worried about knowing where to get off the bus, a consistent worry of mine whenever I am trying to find somewhere new by bus, but I needn’t have worried. As I stared out the window a mosque set just off the road came into view, with a wrought iron entrance. This had to be the Sakirin Mosque. Of course I wasn’t quite quick enough to get the bus to stop right outside the gate, but it was only a short walk back down the hill. My initial impression was one of smooth lines, open space and clean walls (so many of the mosques in Istanbul are so old the walls have taken on a distinctly grey color). Wandering around the outside of the mosque (prayer had just finished so my friend and I wanted to give a bit of time for it to empty out) I caught a glimpse of a painted ceiling through the double layered windows of the dome. I couldn’t wait to get a good look at it. I was fascinated from the moment we entered the courtyard. There you find a metal dome fountain which reflects a 180 degree view of the angle you are looking from. A lovely scene through the watery layer. Take off your shoes and step into the cool interior, joining the stream of curious Turks. The inside has a decidedly different feel to it. If I had to sum it up in one word I would say modern. The mihrab (niche) was not at all what I am used to – simply an upside down half blue green half moon set into the wall. Off center glass chandeliers add sparkle to the light. And of course the ceiling reflects the proud tradition of this region. All in all it left me with a sense of space, openness and gentle welcoming. What a fascinating testament to how a woman can provide a different interpretation to the traditional.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

shared by a friend

One of my friends just shared this with me. It hit home and thought others might appreciate it.


by Molly Davis

how much does a memory cost?
what is currency worth when you're searching adventure?
where do we go next?
does it really matter if we get lost?

they all ask: why risk the pain of leaving well enough alone and good enough behind?

i answer:
because i want to explore why the earth sits securely under some while it rotates madly around others.
because i want to feel the moon shining on the other side of the globe.
because i want to see if the stars twinkle just as brightly there as they do outside the back porch door.
because i want to see if i'm the same person in each time zone.
because i want to find the treasures hidden for me throughout the world.

then i tell them: nothing you cherish is ever really lost, so really, why do you risk the regret of 'why not'?

istanbul, december 2006

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Frozen waterfall
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
My mom’s last weekend in Turkey provided another opportunity to visit one of my goals…the small town of Pamukkale. The town isn’t really much, and it definitely wasn’t the reason for the visit. No, we were going to see the reason for the town – the name translates as Cotton Castle. It’s called this because as you reach the center of the town your attention is drawn to this enormous, flowing white structure. I’m not really sure structure is a good word for it. Rather it is an awe inspiring natural formation that came about as natural springs poured mineral rich water over the hillside. The minerals slowly filtered out leaving white deposits of calcium on the hill. Years of this has left a hard formation covering the hillside with a series of pools, hardened waterfalls and formations which remind of some of the salt formations at the edge of the Dead Sea. I’m struggling for the words to explain it to you. Perhaps my pictures will give you a better sense of the impressiveness of the site which is not designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Along with that designation came several rules to hopefully maintain the formations and possibly return them to their previous bounty. Hotels at the top were torn down. Water flow is a bit more controlled and directed. Shoes must come off and be carried if you want to walk across the travertines (it is a bit like walking on a really big pumice stone – my feet felt a bit raw after traversing them twice). You’re only allowed to enter the bottom few (shallow) pools and guards with whistles chase off anyone who ventures to high, although we enjoyed cooling off in one for almost an hour after we’d explored the ruins of Hierapolis on top (with a well preserved theater and St. Phillip’s martyrdom site). What a lovely, relaxing and definitely new day that was!


The mud baths!
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
I’ve learned a new word in Turkish – çağmur – which means mud. And no, it is not because of all the rain we’ve had this year (I’m thrilled the sun has begun to put in a steady appearance). Curious? Mom and I were too. One of the things advertised by our hotel in Pamukkale as an excursion was a trip to the mud bath. Mud bath? What does that mean? Pretty much what it sounds like. We were taken out to a small facility (currently being redone as the tourist season approaches) which consisted of an outdoor thermal pool, an outdoor mud pool, a natural sauna (think of a room covered by cedar planks with a water pipe constantly pumping out water at roughly 50˚C), and the mud baths. In a back room there are eight rectangles laid out in two rows of four. When you request a mud bath the attendant goes in and mixes the mud with hot water, scoops it to the sides of the “tub” and once you lay back with your head resting on the edge proceeds to cover you up to your neck. It was hot and heavy but not as slimy as I had expected. Definitely one of those cleanse by sweating experiences. After rinsing off (with some help to extract myself) in a hot shower (I’m not sure this place has any cold water at all!) we applied a mud mask from the outdoor pool and then jumped back into the thermal pool. Ouch! That stings the sunburn worse than when we went in at the beginning. Clearly the mud bath did something. Whatever it was we were there long enough we should have gotten all the health benefits the minerals there could bring. [A note of caution: if you do go to the mud baths here make sure you get the attendant to leave the door open in the mud bath room, otherwise you’ll come very close to melting!]

113/365: St George's Day

113/365: St George's Day
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
We had Thursday off this week for National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. It also happened to be St. George’s Day. I had a friend who has had the goal of going up to the top of one of the islands to visit St. George’s monastery. We figured this would be the day to go, and perhaps we would see if people really do head there to make a pilgrimage on this day. I was a bit skeptical, but it turns out to be true. People were pouring onto the island and most of them were heading up to the monastery. We decided to take a carriage ride to the area below the monastery and while waiting for our turn had the chance to enjoy a military band playing in the main square. My only question is, since when does a band need an armed guard? After a bit of a rough ride (there may be no cars on the island but the carriages tear through the streets) we arrived to begin our walk up immediately noticing several things – candles for sale (ok I’m used to those for prayers), ribbons for sale (that seems to be a Muslim thing I’ve seen before for tying on to something as a prayer), daisy chain crowns (seem to have no religious significance), small gold charms for sale all separated into different bins saying “for happiness”, “for baby”…home, car, health, abundance, money, school…, and people selling thread. Thread? What’s that for? As we started going up the steep cobblestone path people were tying an end of the thread to a tree and unwinding it as they walked up leaving a mark of their pilgrimage I guess. A single thread is quite thin but when you get enough of them laid out they can create quite a multicolor web hanging along the side of the path and then soon coating the rocks under our feet. A pilgrimage. Huh, not exactly how I started out thinking about our day, but that is what it began to feel like. Up, up, up to the top to where we joined the line to enter the monastery. Definitely a Greek Orthodox Church. The walls were covered with icons (several of St. George killing the dragon), gilded designs and an open central area. We were swept up by the crowds of people and carried around the edge of the church. Outside and on the way down we came across the tree where many women were trying on their prayer ribbons. Then we came across a sight that I really can’t explain. On the low rock walls people had laid out sugar cubes and stick creating house patterns. Asking for a blessing for their? Wishing to be able to afford a house? Pledging to be a house for God? I truly have no idea, and quite possibly will never know. All in all I have to say that the day was more than I expected in so many ways and definitely a day trip worth taking.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out of the loop

Life has gotten a bit busy lately, but I just saw my mom off after a month of visiting and touring Turkey. I've seen several new places, but have yet to find time to write about them. Soon...or perhaps I should say sometime. I have managed to create a new book for my niece about Kapadokya and some of the crazy things you can see in the fairy chimneys there. Hopefully she'll enjoy her birthday present.

By Cristi Carlstead

Monday, March 30, 2009

tea time

Terraced tea slopes
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Along the coast of the Black Sea, as the hills rise away from the water, lies a land of terraced slopes and water filled valleys (not to mention many bridges – some picturesque and some I’m not sure I’d want to trust my safety to). It is here that Turkey’s tea industry lies. The slopes hold more tea plants then I can even begin to convey and on certain stretches of read you simply pass cay refinery after cay refinery. On this trip I leaved why some of the packets of tea in my grocery store proudly proclaim Rize Cay – it is not a brand name. It is the name of the town where the tea comes from. OF course in the town tea comes from there are plenty of tea gardens to sit down in and enjoy a glass or two. Mom and I made our way to one that was in a (small) botanical garden on the hill side overlooking the city. Quite a climb I must admit, after we figured out the correct path up. We finally made it up and got a good view of those terraced fields and, because we were tourists, a free glass of tea in the garden. How lovely! I think I’ll have a better appreciation of tea in this country now, even if I don’t drink it much at all.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How difficult should it be?

Do you ever have moments when you know something exists but you just can't seem to find it? When, despite your best efforts on Google search you just can't seem to hit on the exact key words you need to pull it up? I got quite frustrated today trying to find sample advertisement that made claims based upon some sort of undisclosed statitiscal analysis. You know the ones that I mean...the 9 out of 10 dentists recommend, with better highway mileage than any other domestic car, more washings for your money....After over half an hour of searching I *finally* came across two that I thought would work out okay for my statistics unit. And I have to document them so that I don't completely lose them again in the future!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quote of the week

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the Ends of the Universe

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Would you like a receipt?

No: let the trees grow
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Every time I go to the ATM machine I have to smile. And no, it’s not because I’m getting some money out. Although, perhaps in a way it is because I’m taking money out. What makes me want to laugh is the question the machine asks after I get my money. “Do you want a receipt?” I know, I know, there is nothing funny about the question. What is amusing is the way that they give you options. You can say “no” which is accompanied by a picture of a nice forest of trees. In other words, no thank you, don’t give me a receipt, I don’t want to use the paper and hurt the environment. Or you can say “yes” which is accompanied by a picture of some stumps of trees. An in, yes, print me out my receipt, I don’t care about the environment, go ahead and cut down those trees. It’s just interesting how the bank machine seems to carry an environmental message. Unfortunately I’m not sure how effective it is at all. Everyone that I have mentioned it to hadn’t noticed the images before I pointed them out. So perhaps the subliminal message isn’t working. But as long as they continue to use the pictures I’ll continue to hold back a giggle whenever I take out my money and chose “no, thank you, I’ll save the forest.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Practical Priest

Sunday when I went to mass I realized just how practical my priest (or church) is here. Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, and in a city where it would take 2 hours for someone to get to church by public transportation making a 7 am mass and still getting to work isn't exactly an option. When I am overseas I often resign myself to just missing the mid-week holy days. Well, shortly after the opening prayers on Sunday, the priest invited up anyone who had not had a chance to get ashes on Wednesday. Hooray! I actually got to have an official start to Lent (of course a few days late). I was a little confused when I went up and was given ashes on the top of my head. ?!? Then I thought about it. Perhaps (I'm speculating here) this too is a sign of how practical the priests are. Technically people are free to practice whatever religion they want here in Turkey. However, this freedom pretty much goes along with not talking about or making a show of being anything but Muslim. And surely walking around with ashes on one's forehead would be a clear indication of being Catholic. So I wonder if the priests were annointing the top of the head as a way of (sort of) protecting the congregation. Interesting to ponder...

Observations in the market

Last Friday I managed to get back to the Kurtkoy market on what ended up being a rather dreary and wet day. Very seldom do I need the full 1 1/4 hours allotted by the bus to do my shopping, and that day was not exception. The last half hour found me slowly sipping a glass of tea at the restaurant where I had ordered my take out for the evening (a cheese pide). With nothing else to distract me I found myself observing interactions in the market from the outside (or perhaps I should say from the inside?). During that time several things struck me. First, the major difference between the market in Turkey and the market I always went to in Guinea is that here, at least in the market I go to, the sellers are exclusively men. There are no women selling things. At all. I suspect this may be because the market does not quite function the same way. At least in Istanbul selling things in the market is a full time job. People buy goods to resell (it is not normal to sell their own produce)and it is a 7 day a week job. Every day these people set up their stall in a different weekly market. So on Friday they are in Kurtkoy, Saturday may find them in Pendik and the other days in some other area of the city. In Guinea the market was a much more personal thing. Men and women tended to sell the things that they had grown, made or harvested (although there were still people who sold dried goods which they had bought from somewhere else). And as life in Guinea was more about subsistence, the person who sold in the market was the person that was available. Sometimes the woman, sometimes the man, and sometimes the children.

The other thing that I noticed while starting through the window was that it is much more common to see women buying things here. That is not so different as anywhere, where the women are in charge of feeding a family. I was amused to watch several couples shopping together to notice that really all the man did was carry the bags. The women were even the ones who were dealing with the money (perhaps because it is the food budget?). The women here, though seem to look at going to the market as just a way to get food. There is not the same level of friendliness and visiting which took place in Guinea. I'm not sure if this is a Turkish-Guinean difference, or if it is just the difference between a weekly market and a daily one.

Having the time to stare out the window and just observe really made me realize how many different variations there can be to the fairly common world wide practice of going to the market.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recycling Istanbul Style

Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
I had an interesting conversation with one of my co-workers this past week, which actually cleared up one of the things that I hadn’t really understood from my wanderings around the streets of Istanbul. There have always been these people around (normally generalized as gypsies although I am not sure if that has an truth to it or not) who do one of two things. They either have these enormous bags (think taller than the person is and about as wide as my outstretched arms) which are on a set of wheels somewhat like a trolley and are steadily stuffed with cardboard and paper as their owners dig through the dumpsters and trashcans on the street. Or it is a man pushing a cart scattered over with what simple looks like refuse but is normally some form of electronic waste or else scrap metal. It turns out that these people are Istanbul’s answer to recycling. They collect the waste cardboard and metal and haul it out (huh…that’s what the horse carts on the main road are transporting so slowly!) to the factory where they are paid by weight for they have collected. The theory was also shared that some of these people work in groups, as it is not uncommon to see one pull out a cell phone and inform a friend that they have finished a certain street and are moving on to the next. It just makes me wonder how many other jobs there are out in this city that I have never imagined!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A couple of months ago I read a headline that said that Turkey was getting a new currency. Huh? I thought. How can that be? I sort of stored that information away in the back of my head, curious to see if it would actually happen while I was here. Well sure enough at the start of the new year the bank machine started spitting out new notes (It was fabulous for a while when all it would issue was 20 lira notes). In reality it hasn’t been as drastic of a change as it sounds. A few years before I arrived Turkey had taken steps to address the inflation problems they were having. They rescaled their currency moving from the Turkish lira to the New (yeni) Turkish lira (otherwise known as ytl) and chopping six zeros of the end. So 1,000,000 TL was worth 1 YTL. It was confusing enough when vendors in the market and some stores still priced goods using the old system. Now though, I guess that they’ve decided that the country will never go back to the old system. Or perhaps they just feel that it is no longer a new currency. So they’ve reissued all of the bills and coins and returned to calling it the Turkish lira. It seems to be a slow turnover…my wallet is a mix of ytl and tl. Although I am slightly amused be the fact that quite often in my change purse I can find the old tl, the ytl and the new tl. How many places do you know that have that many different versions of a currency circulating? I can also say that I’ve already been corrected several times by my students when I attempt to rephrase a question into something pertaining to them and use the ytl. Someone is always sure to speak up and say “Ms. C that no longer exists. You mean the tl, right?” So I’ll continue to slowly adjust to the new look and name, mourn the ending of bills with Kapadokya and Ephesus on them and enjoy that the new notes have a mathematician and a scientist. Above all I’ll just have to try to remember that it is now just the Turkish lira.

Paraguayan challenge

Last night someone asked me what the Paraguayan flag looked like. I had to admit that I didn't have any clue! Of course when I thought about I realized that very seldom do I know what a country's flag looks like before I ever arrive. But in the name of becoming better informed (which really means adding any little piece of information to my admittedly meager knowledge) I went to look it up. Turns out it is this:

And is one of the few countries which has a different seal on the front and back of their flag. In Paraguay's case the seal of the country and the seal of the treasury. I was kind of bummed that they weren't still using one of their provisional flags which I think is so much more unique and recognizable. Oh well.

Getting students excited

I am always thrilled as a teacher when I can get my kids excited and fired up about something. I was pretty sure I had a winner of a lesson today for LP students (those learning the English of mathematics) and it turns out I was right. All because of this little problem (try it if you have a bit of time and see what you get as a result):

Write down the month you were born in (as a number)
Multiply by 4
Add 13
Multiply by 25
Subtract 200
Add the day you were born on
Multiply by 2
Subtract 40
Multiply by 50
Add the last 2 digits of the year you were born in
Subtract 10500

**I'm not quite sure if it will work with students born in 2000 or later, I might need to check that out in future years. **

Friday, February 13, 2009

A new destination

Come July I'll be moving to Asuncion, Paraguay to start a two year teaching contract at the American School of Asuncion. I have to admit I'm a bit overwhelmed by the way things are working out (especially the way my timing will go this July) and am curious as to what I have really gotten myself into (again). I'm not sure I can even explain how little I knew about Paraguay when I accepted my job ('s in South America, they speak Spanish...that about sums it up). Thankfully since then I have learned a bit more, and found a few things to be excited about.

(1) Paraguay is one of only two landlocked countries in South America (Bolivia is the other one). It is bordered by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
(2) The population of the country is less than that of Istanbul, about 6.8 million. The population of Asuncion is roughly 1.2 million. I did say I wanted something smaller.
(3) I'm moving back to a land of mangoes and papayas. Yum!
(4) Paraguay is the third largest exporter of soybeans in the world. Huh. Who knew?
(5) The majority of the population is bilingual speaking Spanish and Guarani. (I think I'll focus on learning Spanish.)
(6) There are only about 20 books printed in English about Paraguay. (I guess that's more than enough, just doesn't seem like that many...)

It should be an adventure!

Reflections on a job fair

International teaching has developed a unique (?) system of finding and hiring teachers. A couple of organizations (Search Associates and ISS among them) organize fairs where teachers looking for a placement and schools with positions to fill can meet, interview and possibly make a match. All of this usually occurs within 2-3 days. A few stressful, crazy, busy days at least on the side of the teacher.

Last week I was at one such fair in Boston (with 500 teaching candidates and around 100 schools). As I settle back into life in Istanbul I find myself reflecting on the things that I really must remember the next time I go through one of these things.

(1) I need to know and remember what I am looking for in a school. This time I really wanted a smaller school population - so why did I interview with a large school in Shanghai?
(2) You have to sell yourself. There is no one else to do it for you. If you don't sell yourself there is some other math teacher out there who will.
(3) Schedule eating breaks. I know that some people this year only managed to get 2 or 3 interviews. Because I am a math teacher this is seldom the case. I had 9 interviews in all (not counting call backs) and 5 of them were back to back. Not the best idea. It really is better if you have a bit of time to relax, take a deep breath, eat a snack, and make some notes so that you can keep the schools straight. I knew this, and had every intention of following it, but somehow still didn't quite work out.
(4) Sometimes it might be worth while to talk with someone even if they are not at a school you are currently interested in or if you don't quite meet their needs. You never know when the situation will change. In 3 years you may decide that is *the* school you want to be at, or the head may change schools and end up at your dream school. Contacts are good to make. Some of my most enjoyable time was spent speaking with the head of a school I had no interest in moving to (but where two ex-colleagues had returned to with happiness). She helped me to refocus on what I desired, gave me a different perspective, and made me feel as if there was one more person "on my side."

Hopefully getting this all written down will help me remember it the next time I end up in a similar situation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When politics enter school

Yesterday my study hall was interrupted by an explanation that immediately after following the morning exam we would have a school-wide minute of silence for all of the Palestinian students and children that had died recently. I thought this was interesting - seemed to be completely out of the blue. The merit? Well, maybe it will actually make our students think about how many people die when there is conflict. Maybe it will make them, at least for a minute, appreciate the safety and advantages they often take for granted. I did think it was a bit odd that we were only remembering the Palestinians...what about the other half of the blameless victims? I thought perhaps I had just misunderstood the Turkish (hey, it happens...and quite often). Today I found out that the whole thing had come down from the ministry of education and happened at all school across Turkey at the same time (theoretically - we managed at least to not disrupt our exams with it). That information made me sit back and question again. Clearly there is something bigger going on, and politics just pushed their way into my classroom - without me even being aware of it at the time. Definitely gives a teacher food for thought.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quote of the week

But he was able to understand one thing: Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.

-Paul Coelho, The Alchemist