Thursday, December 4, 2008

Doha Days 2-4

Boys outside school - waiting to head home.
No one thought to ask us what time we had on our watches so we were still on Dubai time - an hour ahead of Doha - so Joy & I woke at 5.00 am (4.00am Doha time) - breakfasted and prepared for the driver and the journey to work only to discover that I was an hour too early!
Nothing like being eager for work?

Once our driver arrived, my partner at the school, Dave Parry (Lakes High School ) and I headed out (at the correct time - 6.30 am) to work and my first day of offical contact as Teacher Advisor!

The drive out took us through construction sites of mainly large houses or compounds of apartment blocks interspersed with commercial buildings of incredible granduer -ornate castellations and curved windows, like the shopping centre "Villagio", a huge complex that has an ice rink and a canal and gondolas - surrounded by apartments, piles of rubble, sand and trucks as Doha spreads itself outwards from the Corniche.

The Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab School is out on the fringes of Doha overlooking the desert on one side while the other looks over what will become a new suburb of Doha. In the middle distance behind the school is a wadi with a couple of tents pitched into the shade of the palms and several camels drifting around the compound watched over by several little kids.

The staff meeting was under way when we arrived at school. The Deputy Principal, an Englishman in three piece suit and academic gown, was giving out the daily messages and notices to the staff, a mix of nationalities - Jordanian, Egyptian, English, Syrian, Palestinian, Saudi Arabian and Morrocan. We were welcomed as "Mr Dave and the new English Advisor, Mr Alan." Surnames appear to be not used in favour of forenames.

The school day starts at 7.30 and finishes at 1.30pm so I'm heading home around 2.00pm. The first week I spent wandering the classrooms, talking and observing the teachers in action and the students in various attitudes of attention. Each period is two hours long by the way.

The school is built in concrete so the classrooms echo which makes the reception of spoken English some what difficult even for a person who normally speaks and hears English so imagine what it would be like listening to a person speaking English he has learned as an accented second language to students for whom English is a reluctantly taken subject!!

The students appear to be pleasant, happy individuals who, although being anywhere between 15 - 20 years old, behave as though they are enthusiastic 10 year olds until they leave school and climb into their 4 x 4s or utes and one sees car driving that the Boy Racers at home would freak out at.
Boys leaving school
In school one has to adjust to the sight of boys holding hands and kissing each other in greeting. In one class a boy arriving late shook hands with his teacher and then kissed him on both cheeks before sitting down.

Wednesday break saw a 5 a side soccer game played in the gymnasium. The winning team was presented with a trophy by the Principal, Mr. Nasser then all present, including staff were lined up for a photograph.

Spot Mr. Alan in the line up.

I'm in the process of developing a 5 hour workshop on unit & lesson planning and a staff PD presentation on effective power point presentations to be delivered after Eid.

We're now settling in for the ten day Eid break which, for some students really means 14 days as many headed out into Saudi Arabia earlier in the week.


Matt said...

Very interesting post. Can I ask a couple of ignorant questions?
1) All of the boys are wearing head coverings - is this part of the uniform and does it represent any other function?
2) How well behaved are the boys when it comes to learning and respect towards teachers?
3) What socio-economic grouping are the students in?

We miss you guys already!!

The Curmudgeon said...

The head covering is part of the uniform - it is Qatari national dress.So it is worn by every male in national costume. Women wear a black abaya - sometimes fuly veiled - sometimes not.
The boys are well behaved (as far as I can tell) Respect for elders is apparently a cultural more. However the society is an hierarchy with Qatari at the top.
Socio-economic groupings don't run here, at least in the NZ sense. I've been told that each Qatari gets QR30,000 a year from birth from the oil revenues.