Thursday, 29 March 2012

History repeats itself! Does it?

I wonder why we are all obsessed with History and historical things, I yet to find a person who looks at today and tomorrow; we always say, I regret not having done that, or I wish I had got that, and why didn't I go there! The exclamation marks continue. Look at most of the studies, stories, novels and so on, they all depend on historical data, events and happening, of course this is human nature, for example when someone has an accedent and loses ones memory, everybody including the doctors try very hard to get that memory back? Why? So the person knows his or her history. This conclusion means that History is important and we have to document it, like write a journal, or start a memoir.

Why am I writing this? Well, I am not saying, mum is the word! If a person wants to keep his or her history a secret, for whatever reason, I think people should not probe and try to find out what that person did in the past. Many people did things that they are not very proud of, or maybe they had memories that are painful so probing doesn't help. Especially if we knew a person after that person had changed his of her life and became a different individual, then we must work with the individual to keep that part of his or her life under cover.

Does it work! No, I think that history is important, as it's the reason for shaping ones life, without a past there is no present and no future, even the language uses these three terms, past, presnet and future tenses have been there for a reason, not just to conjugate the verb. So my advice to friends, husbands, wives, employers, colleagues, and every one in between, please do not judge people by their past, look at them in the present and picture yourselves with them in the future, this person is a person because his or her past was such that made him or her like this.

Us the human beings are prone to querying and being inquisitive, I think we were cats before we became humans (oops, I hope I am not judged for saying this, it's just a figure of speech) as cats want to know everything, my cat goes inside bags and boxes to find out what's inside them, and I think us too do the same, we want to get into people's heads to know what's inside them, and if there is nothing, we get upset? As we have become friends, colleagues, husbands, wives etc with someone who has no history inside that skull!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

GCES conference in Bahrain 23-3-2012 (gulf comparative education society)

Day one.
The minister said his statement. 2005 was a landmark. They establish btc. Bahrain poly, improve higher education, improve technical and vocational education, establish qaa . Also the improvements in schools covered 50% of the schools

We didn't reach our goal due to the dynamic nature of bahrain. It requires continuos improvement and review to meet the needs of society and individuals.

Dr Ali Ibrahim the president of GCES (established in 2008)
Exchange of ideas and best practices. Adapting global innovation.

Sheikh Hisham bin ali Alkhalifa ministry of education bahrain
When bahrain did the TIMSS they found that they aare much below the average in the world. They engaged undiscovered and EDB.
Singapore, Finland and new Zealand used for comparison. Made changes to the school management and monitoring. School improvement programme. 204 are the number of schools in bahrain.

Is bahrain complying with unesco millennium education reforms. Yep, there are improvements

David guile university of london
Creative economy vs knowledge economy.
STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) and non STEM need to be rethought of and explored.
Knowledge economy was the mentioned by Peter Drucker. Also Bell developed  the concepts of knowledge economy. (notes in a piece of paper)

Education reforms in bahrain. First panel

Ian haslam the ceo of btc
Ontario changes from a stagnant system to a dynamic system

Hanada thomure was here talking about arabic language. Great to see her after a long time.

21st century skills!
Knowledge building
Problem solving and innovation
Skilled communication
self regulation
use of ICT for learning

Where did the C came from in ICT? Stevenson report 1997 he put the C in IT

In UK within 10 years cost 7.5 million pounds for ICT
Large capital injection in technology in schools in UK
But only 1:6 schools are really using ICT in the classrooms.

Schools are trying to imbed 21st century skills (king Hamad schools in bahrain that uses technology heavily)

Knowledge building proff. Wing Lai to relook at his papers

Second day:
Mark Bray:
World council of comparative education societies(wcces)
It has 40 member societies including the GCES which ran this conference.
The next world congress will be in Argentina June 2013 See if I can submit my research to that conference

Next year GCES is going to be in Oman

Nice word comparative educationalists

The cube of comparison taking the various aspects of comparisons.

BOOK comparative education email him and he will give us a electronic copy.

We have a tremendous natural laboratory here to compare things. For example UAE has many systems of education. That will be a good way to research.

In research we tend to be dominated by:
-traditions in the choice of countries to be compared
-Prejudiced tending to look at more advanced countries
-Languages we can only read in languages with which we are familiar
-Technology what is available on the internet?

The gulf countries are themselves are very interesting group for comparisons

Scholars and practitioners in the GCES can contribute to a wider debates as well as learn from them.

Units of comparison must be taken with care and awareness.

And the field of comparative education is a useful domain which has much to contribute to other fields.

second speaker Thuwayba Al Barwani from SQU
Very depressing state we are, as the gulf has no mentionable research or publishable research if compared to the rest of the world.

Consumers of knowledge rather than producers  well said

The innovation sustainability  wheel
Research, vision, communication network, accountability, resources mobilisation, participation, professional development, reward system, institutionalisation,

She compared the students before the implementation of the new educational investments and after. And there was no change?
What happened to the money?

The innovation we focused on the infrastructure rather than the students. R and d is the weakest link
These innovation lacked evidence based justifications. Lacked rigorous assessment of their impact on student learning.

Education reforms in the UAE
Research on what teachers think about the reforms.

Change can be defined as the movement from one state to another.

Preserving the culture and tradition a d importing the curricula? In our schools.
Researcher used interviews as if she used questionnaires these will never be replied to. Basically the teachers are not happy about the change as they don't believe that they were given Enough time to practice it

Private tutoring in UAE:- mainly boys take private tutoring and it certainly pays to have a business for private tutoring

Most important thing I heard is that there are more females than male participating in education. Also $80 million is spent on foundation programmes every year in UAE only.

The main change in the field of education today is that there is no university that teaches a degree in isolation, knowledge is transgressive (everyone in the team works in the same place) and apprentices are taught to be creative, and that too doesn't depend on the level of study, people these days should not think that others will steal their work and ideas, as intellectual property is maintained.
STEM (the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are taught in a way that communication skills are induced as well as entrepreneurial practices.  Doctors and others in the health profession are also taught to indulge in the community health.  There isn't such thing as professional or vocational, education had changed the way subjects are taught or delivered. So scientists are asked to change the context/pedagogy/work practices to suit the learner and link work and education, link the qualification and work. Also pedagogical creativity is introduced, where we teach young people to be inquisitive and urge them to use their imagination. So we need to decontextualise learning and education.

These are the notes of the conference. I tried to summarise the important stuff. Basically what I noted is that there is huge amount of research that we can conduct in the gulf. Trends and statistics are available and they are up for grabs, so us the researchers can pick and choose, why don't we?

Sunday, 25 March 2012


I bet that all of you will google the acronym to find out what it stands for? Well it's the Gulf Comparative studies society. Comparative means that we look at other countries and compare what we have to what they have, and ask the Question of why don't we have what we have (sort of like what women always do, but the society is made up of men and women).  The comparisons however are in relating to Education. Apparently we spend like crazy on Education but we are still lagging behind despite that fact. If you add the education budget (lower and higher education) in all the gulf countries you will find out that it's a staggering 26% of the total GDP. Well that's a lot of money. So why are behind? 

The conference was shedding some light on this fact. First reason is that we improve the infrastructure not the people, we try to train the teachers but we do not follow up if the training is good enough, we buy curricula rather than trying to find the ones that suit us or developing our own, we bring technology and we don't train the teachers how to use it, we don't do enough research to find out why boys are not equal to girls when it comes to education. Nor do we find out why when education is over why men reach the glass ceiling while women continue to do the menial jobs?

If you leave the analysis to me, I will not look at gender when I do research! Gender based research are often biased, as women don't like to reply to questionnaires and men hate to talk in interviews. Also what about freedom in saying what we want to say? Are we free to do any research? Well, we want the liberality in research, and this factor is not studied in this conference. Culture adaptation is a key, even amongst us the GCC countries, we have cultural issues, so when conducting research we need to adapt the research to fit the culture of each country. In actual fact we need to fit the culture of each village in each country, as each one has a different culture.  We need to raise the level of the teachers' reward, without having motivated teachers we cannot improve the education system, we also need to involve the teachers in any decision to be taken for school reforms, as without their buyouts we cannot implement the reforms properly.  

Anyway, the thing that amazed me is the research about the private tuition, and how some private tutors make so much money.  So why do students go to the same teacher that teaches them in school to receive private tuition? I will remove the fact that some teachers insist on private tuition.  I am more inclined to say that that teacher must be damn good if he or she can make so much money in private tuition. Also the students gender is an issue here? Boys more than girls? Well at least I know that boys prefer smaller class sizes, so to get rid of private tuition, let us reduce the class sizes or have a breakout rooms so the students study with mentors? In any case I think Private tuition main reason is the lack of parental time to teach the kids, hence the high spend on this factor. 

The other amazing research is the one that Dr Hanada did on arabic language. We use dialect when teaching in arabic, hence the low knowledge in the language, she mentioned one word, shoes, and how many different names we have in the Arab world for shoes, which is absolutely true. So she thinks that we should all speak in arabic language rather than in dialect. That should be interesting I guess.

I will leave you to make up your own ideas, but please let me know about them, as the next conference is going to be in Oman, and I would love to be one of the researchers. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

What do you need to do if you want to be a phone developer?

This is not a tricky question, and it is not meant to be answered by the most intelligent people on earth. It is as simple as can be.

Students who want to study to be phone developers should go for a product design course which is part of the engineering faculty. Most universities that have engineering may have this major. However a knowledge of hard ware and software is crucial, and these must be learnt prior to embarking on the major. 

The requirements will be a portfolio about your self with pictures and essays relating to the phone industry, drawings of phones and new designs if any. Most students do to know that this is important so they never have them and wonder why the university did not accept them into that degree. So let me explain to you why having a portfolio about you and your future career is important; this shows that you are serious about your pathway, and already know what you want to do in life. Of course just loving to buy new phones when the new model lands in the market is not a reason for unvisitity registrar to accept you, you will need to have an in depth analysis, knowledge of design and some past experience of building something.

It is very unfortunate that our schools do not encourage students to prepare a portfolio of work during their school term. I guess because we are busy teaching subjects that are not relevant to our future so the important stuff fall in the crack. I must talk to KHDA about this and hope that they will have it as a mandatory item when they audit the schools. 

I can show the kids how to start building their portfolio and will be happy to see some come to us for admission armed with all the necessary documents. 

Just a fun note, if you are really going to study phone design please talk to my sisters, they are killing the BBM and the whatsapp messenger due to extensive use!!!  I guess it's time that someone give them a new application but Steve Job is gone, so I guess we need new Steve Jobs soon. 

Bahrain Airport

We reached the airport an hour ago, was happy that I will see mum after almost a month, strode with my husband to fill the foreigners form, then I waited with him in the foreigners lane.  Till now we are waiting as his passport is gone in the deep hole were they check for something that non of the poor staff at the airport know.

You know how that made me feel? A non respected Bahraini citizen? Well I know of course that I am not respected in my own country, but to show my husband that I have to be with him waiting for his passport to be cleared means that he will also know that I am not respected, and because of this, he will not respect me.  So any Bahraini, male of female who are married to foreigners, please prepare for the war that is going to happen inside your own homes, or else do not travel to Bahrain (or travel alone if you need to travel). Will to me I would rather stay in Dubai, the country that hosted me for 31 years and gave me all the possibilities than come here and be humiliated.  I know that whatever I do will not remove the twinkle in my husband's eye that says, hay, your country made me wait at the airport for a long time, I will not respect you!

And to make matters worse, the poor airport staff were telling me that I should go to immigration and sponser my husband and make him a resident of Bahrain so he doesnt have to wait at the airport! Did this person actually visit the immigration office in Bahrain? I guess not, as my shoes were worn out due to the number of times I went there to get the amiri decree implemented, they seem to have different interpretation to that decree that was given to me to sponsor my kids and husband almost 7 years ago. 

Oh well. If Bahrain loves us the CITIZENS of BAHRAIN, then it will not let our partners disrespect us just because our country does so. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Today I am talking about careers and how students should think about them early in life, before even thinking of what to study.  Why? Because every person should know what he or she like to do.  I had bought a software when we started the consultancy that provide various choices to students and once the students take the test we analyse and let him or her know if the thing they like to do is what actually suit their personality.  One doesn't want to spend his or her youth working on something that is not enriching.  However since then we found out that there are lots of softwares used by schools and by counsellors, psychologists and other career advisors that help children find their path.  

Psychometric testing is one of the best if administered properly. However many companies had used it in a way that is so negative and hence the avoidance of people to undertake that test.  So many new companies have started to provide advise on how to read the report and how it should be used. One thing the report cannot be used for is sacking people from their jobs.  So we are all working so hard on informing the companies,  if they listen to us will and good, otherwise we advise our students to go to professionals and seek better analysis and a second opinion.

A career is not only a way to make a living, it's an experience into the unknown, a proof that one is good enough, a thriving of the brain and an exercise to the muscles.  Careers are a way of life, a method to see if what is out there is suitable.  However we should not mistake careers with paid jobs only; careers can be your own business, a proffessional skill like accountant, lawyer, dentist or doctor, vocational trades, and everything in between.  All these careers come from within the individual and if you find out early what you are good at, you would save your self from boredom, plus you will enjoy living. There is nothing like doing something that you hate! It's like being in hell.  Instead find out what you like  and just do it.

Don't forget however that next to your career is your hobby or hobbies, these are to be norished too and a balance should be struck between them, like everything in life one must have a balanced life style.  But if your career and your hobby are one and the same, you will spend your life happy and actually having fun! As work is not routine and its your own creation 

I will tell you about me, being 56, and having just found out what I like to do, was a revelation, no wonder I have been spending every minute of my time on this newly discovered hobby.  If a counsellor had put me in the right direction when I was 15! I would for sure be an outlier now, think of the wonderful stuff that I would have achieved.  

Do the test and spend the money, otherwise you will be losing all your money if you don't (I used to spend all my money on shopping as I got bored everyday after returning home from my job now I don't even have time to do any shopping). Also someone once said that if you are passionate about what you do, then you will not work for the rest of your life, as an enjoyable work is a hobby.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Art Circle

If you have anything to do with Art, Dubai is your heaven this week. Artdubai promises you week of culture, beauty, installation, gala dinners and galleries from around the world. most of the events will take place in Madinat Jumeira, however the artisitic districts of Dubai, like Alqouz and Al sikka also will showcase artists from around the world:


*Opening Day: All events, except for the Ladies' Day and the Global Art Forum, are by invitation only

11.30 – 14.00

Held Under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Women Establishment, Wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs UAE.

An exclusive preview for women featuring tours by curators and art experts.

12.00 – 15.00

For its first participation at Art Dubai, Cartier presents a unique high jewellery creation, ‘Cartier Naturellement’, designed in an enchanted setting inspired by nature by the landscape artist Christophe Ponceau. Cartier and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain also present ‘Aquarium’, a mobile of precious stones by the Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes.

14.00 – 17.00


Free of charge and open to all. See here for timings and more info

16.00 – 21.30


(invite only)

16.00 – 21.00


The Hatch features artists' talks, film and video screenings

17.00 – 18.00


By Nada Raza & Jim Quilty, published by Selma Feriani Gallery & Frederica Schiavo Gallery

18.00 – 18.30


An exclusive tour of ‘Spectral Imprints’, Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2012 by Guest Curator Nat Muller. Winning artists are Taysir Batniji, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Wael Shawky, Risham Syed and Raed Yassin. Book a place on the tour at any of the information desks.

18.00 – 19.00


Carlos Celdran’s performative tour of the fair, commissioned as part of Art Dubai Projects, features seven acts in seven different parts of the fair, performed each night. The selected locations trigger an entertaining and engaging narrative, at the intersection of where geopolitics meets contemporary art. Book a place on the tour at any of the information desks.

18.30 – 19.00


Marker, the curated section of concept stands launched in 2011, this year turns its focus to the dynamic Indonesian arts scene. Yogyakarta-born curator Alia Swastika, who has selected five Indonesian galleries – Ark Galerie, Biasa Artspace, Galeri Canna, D’Gallerie and Jogja Contemporary - leads this exclusive tour. Book a place on the tour at any of the information desks.

19.00 – 19.30


Commissioned as part of Art Dubai Projects, Istanbul-based artist Köken Ergun’s new work involves nightly shows at the fair with a surprise element, combining easy listening with commentary on the fair itself. The project is produced in collaboration with The Fridge and features UAE-based singer-pianist duo Melisa Le Rue and Stoyan Stoyanov.

19.00 – 19.30


Galerie Janine Rubeiz, A28



11.30 – 12.30


A brunch hosted by Yongwoo Lee, President of the Gwangju Biennale, featuring a presentation by the six artistic directors and previous directors of the 2012 Biennale (Sept 7-November 12, 2012) Carol Yinghua Lu, Nancy Adajania, Mami Kataoka, Sun-jung Kim, Alia Swastika and Wassan Al-Khudhairi. The Gwangju Biennale 2012 takes ‘Roundtable’ as its theme, exploring the possibility of a democratic and non-hierarchical exchange concerning global cultural production, through various forms of collective endeavour, research into historic entanglements among societies, and the exploration of diverse contexts of belonging.

14.00 – 17.00


16.00 – 21.30


16.00 – 21.00


16.30 – 17.00


17.00 – 18.00


Yto Barrada and Zid Zid Kids’ project is an exploration area and trilingual educational zone – with film projections and ice cream -- for both children and adults, inspired by a 1950s sci-fi universe of astronauts, aliens and space robots. Commissioned by Art Dubai Projects, From Morocco to the Moon is made possible with the support of Louis Vuitton.
Sign up for daily children’s workshops (for 4-10 year-olds) at the Projects Desk in the Arena Foyer.

18.00 – 18.30


18.00 – 19.00


Join the Edge of Arabia team and artists, including Ahmed Mater, Abdulnaser Gharem, Manal AlDowayan, Maha Malluh, Ayman Yosseri, Hala Ali, Noha AlSharif, Jowhara AlSaud and Sami AlTurki, to celebrate the launch of Edge of Arabia: Contemporary Art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, published by Booth-Clibborn Editions. Showing the work of 12 pioneering artists and milestone Edge of Arabia exhibitions in London, Venice, Berlin, Istanbul, Dubai, and Jeddah, this new publication offers an inspiring window into the contemporary life of a Kingdom in transition.

18.00 – 19.00


18.30 – 19.00


Sutton Gallery, B16

18.30 – 19.00


19.00 – 20.00


Yto Barrada & Zid Zids discuss educational art projects

20.00 – 00.00


Co-produced by Art Dubai Projects and Traffic, the inaugural Performance Night at Art Dubai features an eclectic line-up of artists, poets, musicians, academics, curators, and collectors -- most of whom are based in the UAE, including Hala Al Ali, Isak Berbic, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, Anahita Razmi, Lantian Xie and WolfPakistan, plus the return to Dubai of musician Bunty with a late-night set.
(Last entrance is at 21.30. Please arrive via the Mina A’Salam entrance.)


12.00 – 19.30


12.00 – 19.30


14.00 – 15.00


14.00 – 17.00


16.00 – 17.00


18.00 – 18.30


18.00 – 19.00


18.30 – 19.00


Sutton Gallery, B16

18.30 – 19.00


19.00 – 20.00



12.00 – 17.30


12.00 – 17.00


12.30 – 13.30


Writers Murtaza Vali and Alexander Provan share their first critical impressions of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2012 exhibition Spectral Imprints with its artists Wael Shawky, Risham Syed, Taysir Batniji, Raed Yassin, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, and curator Nat Muller. Real-time, unedited and live.

13.00 – 13.30


14.00 – 15.00


14.00 – 17.00


16.00 – 17.00


16.30 – 17.30


On the 19th I am having a conflicting appointments, which I would love to see both, one in Sharjah and the other one at Serkal avenue (4 new studios are opening there. I think Sharjah will have to wait till the art week is over.

My wish though that we will be considering every artist and every inspiring artist, my wish is to see that at least for arts sake we do not discriminate against artists same as we discriminate against writers, designers, producers of films, film makers, and the array of art, culture, film, photography, music and design ( I call them the forgotten fields). I am sure someone will benefit from Artdubai ( and the other events around it, I hope part of the benefit is actually also going to artists and some will go to charity.

See you all there. Just one point before I leave you to start my work drill, last night I visited "The Pavilion" a very nice art gallery, however despite loving the videos and the photos, I didn't understand the acrobatic scenes that were taking place? and how those were considered ART? ah well, ce la vie!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Making Money, Fairness and luck

Warren Buffett believes in making money. He believes in fairness. He believes in the ability of government to make people's lives better. But most of all, he believes in luck.
"I've had all this good fortune," Buffett says. "It starts with being born in this country, though. It starts with being born male in 1930."
Genes, luck and birthplace may have helped make Buffett the world's third richest man. But in the past year, his good fortune has also turned him into one of America's most unexpected radicals. He's an ardent capitalist who is demanding higher taxes on the rich and...

Read more:,9171,2104309,00.html#ixzz1pFokY18k

This is an excerpt of an interview with Warren Buffet, the person that I follow and stalk whenever I have the time to reflect. The words he used are the same words that I believe in, however I am not making money, and there is no fairness in my life, nor am I lucky?

Why? Well, Buffet said it all, I not born in America? Nor am I a male who was born in the 1930's! He is absolutely correct those were the days were hard work is rewarding, as you can be the only one who is born with the brain of the millennium and the slow life of the 30's so whatever you think of can be done, effeciently, cheaply and people will use it.

So what are we going to do? The world is still suffering from the economic downturn, the Middleeast is facing a vicious war (disguised by a stupid name ARAB SRING), Europe is in deep debt, and us who are thinking hard to provide to the happiness of this world are not able to make it as the circumstances are beyond ripe.

I joined this group called Decemland. It's created by a person who believes that he along with a few from every country in the world, if they put their minds together can create a new economic thinking that can influence the world. Of course this economic eutopia will be created not by government, not by politicians, but by normal human beings who believe in fairness, luck and HARD WORK! However, I have come to realise that this not possible! Why! Well because without having relationships with people that are close to the goverment, or relationships with governments one cannot do anything. I agree with what Buffet said about "governments' ability to make people's lives better" but who is trying to make people's lives better from our governments? Take the middle east? Apart from UAE and Oman I don't think any of the other governments are even trying. KSA's king is trying hard, but what about his government. I like the king in KSA, especially with his ambitious scholarship programme. However even the most ambitious programme requires not only thought, but great people to execute it. These great people need to be like Buffet, no bribes, no abuse of the system, a great care for humanity and fairness. Well, how can we generate such people?

All I can say here is that, we are not male, not born in the 1930's nor are we Warren Buffet. So we cannot change the world.

Did I forget the magic word? And we are not lucky. However ŵe have faith, and with faith we can do anything, and achieve anything.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

الربيع العربي وثورة التعليم@ خليل حسن مفكرة سفير عربي في اليابان

أدت تحديات العولمة السياسية، والاقتصادية، والتعليمية، والتكنولوجية لانتفاضة عالمية في عام 2010، بدأت بثورة الشاي من شوارع مدينة نيويورك، لتنتقل إلى الحرائق في مدينة لندن، ولتمتد للشرق الأوسط، بتغيرات في أنظمة الحكم من تونس ومصر وحتى ليبيا واليمن، وقد تتبعها سوريا قريبا. وقد ربط الكثير من المفكرين هذه الانتفاضات بتمكين الشباب، من خلال تكنولوجية شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي على الانترنت، التي خلقت بيئة لتبادل الأفكار، وتنظيم الإعتصامات، والمظاهرات، وليتفاءل البعض ليسميها بانتفاضات الربيع العربي، ويبقي السؤال لعزيزي القارئ: هل ممكن أن تتطور المجتمعات العربية بدون تطوير الإنتاجية المبدعة؟ وهل يمكن تطوير الإنتاجية المبدعة بدون تطوير التعليم؟ وما هي تحديات التعليم في وطننا العربي؟
تحديات التعليم في وطننا العربي كبيرة ومتشعبة، وأهمها فلسفتنا التعليمية التقليدية التي تعتمد على جمع المعلومة وتلقينها، وتجنب المسائلة، وتوجيه التفكير التقليدي، وتربية العمل على التواكل لا الإتقان، وسيطرة تعليم العلوم الطبيعية على العلوم الروحية. وليسمح لي عزيزي القارئ، لأقدم شخصية لنتعرف من خلالها على قوة التعليم في خلق أجيال الحياة، لا أجيال الموت، وهي السيدة هيلين كيلير. ولدت الكاتبة كيلر عام 1880، وقد أصيبت في الشهر التاسع عشر من عمرها بحمى شديدة أدت لفقدانها البصر، والسمع، والتكلم. وتعرفت في السنة السادسة من عمرها على الآنسة، آن سوليفان، التي علمتها أبجدية اللمس. وقد تحدت الآنسة كيلر عاهتها وأكملت دراستها الجامعية بتفوق. وقد نشرت قصة حياتها في عام 1902. ويبقى السؤال: ما هي الظروف التي تحول الأعمى والأصم، لبصير ومفكر كالآنسة كلير؟ وما هي فلسفة التربية المجتمعية، والتعليم المدرسي، التي تحول كامل السمع والبصر، ليفجر نفسه، ليقتل أبناء شعبه، ويحطم اقتصاد بلاده؟
التقت الآنسة كيلر بالفيلسوف الياباني شونسوكي تسورومي في نهاية الثلاثينيات، حينما كان طالبا بجامعة هارفارد، فنصحته بقولها "لقد تعلمت الكثير في الجامعة، ولكن بعدما تخرجت، كان علي أن أتناسى ما تعلمته وأبدأ من جديد." حاول السيد تسورومي أن يتفهم معنى كلمة التناسي، فشرحها بقوله: "تصورت بأنني تعلمت حياكة جاكتة الصوف في الجامعة، وحينما تخرجت فتقت هذه الحياكة من جديد لخيوط صوفية، ثم قمت بحياكتها من جديد على قياس جسمي." وشرح في حواره كيف أن الآنسة كيلر تناست المعلومات الجامعية الملقنة، وتفهمتها بطريقة جديدة، لتستفيد منها في دراسة تحديات مجتمعها، وإيجاد الطرق المناسبة للتعامل معها. ولو تعمقنا في حوار الفيلسوف الياباني لفهمنا بأنه لا يؤمن بتلقين المعلومة، بل يعتقد بأن على التعلم أن يركز على التدريب للبحث عن المعلومة، والاستفادة منها في التعامل مع التحديات الحياتية، وبأن المشاكل الحياتية ليست مرتبطة بحقيقة معينة ثابتة، بل هي تحديات تتغير مع الزمن، والظروف المرافقة، كما ليس هناك حلول ثابتة، بل هناك طرق متغيرة لمحاولة التعامل مع التحديات حسب الظروف وزمانها.
وقد تكون أحد تحديات تعليمنا هو تفكيرنا الأفلاطوني، باعتقادنا بأن هناك حقيقة واحدة، نحاول الوصول إليها، وإذا اكتشفنا هذه الحقيقة، تبقى كل الأفكار الأخرى خاطئة، وبعيدة عن الحقيقة التي نؤمن بها، وبأن مشاكلنا لها حلول متحجرة، وقد نحتاج للرجوع للتاريخ لإيجاد بعض هذه الحلول، وبدون المسائلة. وهنا تختلف الفلسفة اليابانية، المأخوذة من الفلسفة الصينية، عن فلسفتنا العربية الأفلاطونية، فهي لا تؤمن بأن هناك حقيقة ثابتة، بل أن المعلومات متغيرة وفي في تطور دائم، كما أن التاريخ يحتاج لدراسة متسائلة للاستفادة منه وتجنب أخطاءه. وهذه الفلسفة مهمة جدا للتناغم المجتمعي، فحينما يؤمن الجميع بأن لا أحد منا يملك الحقيقة، ولكل منا حرية الرأي، بدون أن نفرض رأينا على الآخرين، بل نحترم اختلاف الآخرين ونستفيد منه، لينتشر الاحترام، والوئام، والتناغم المجتمعي، وتتطور فلسفة عمل الفريق، وتزداد إنتاجية المجتمع، ويتطور اقتصاده. ويرجع البعض تخلف تفكيرنا، لتشبثنا الأبدي بما نعتقد بأنه الحقيقة، وكل من يخالفنا فهو حاقد، أو منافق، أو رجعي. وبذلك نوقف الحوار المنتج، مما يؤدي للتخوف المجتمعي في التعبير عن الأفكار، وتنعدم الحوارات الفكرية الديمقراطية المنتجة، وتتخلف ثقافة التطور الفكري، وتتحجر العقول، ويزداد الخلاف، لتنتهي بصراعات فكرية مفلسة وانعدام الإبداع، وانتشار الغيبة، والنميمة، والنفاق. فالإبداع يحتاج لبيئة صالحة، ينعدم فيها الاعتقاد بأن الفكرة المعينة، وأحيانا التاريخية، هي الحقيقة المطلقة، بل بأن جميع الأفكار يمكن أن تساءل، وتناقش، وتطور وبحرية. فالتحاور الفكري ينير العقول، ويطور الأفكار، ويبرز الأفكار المبدعة والمتناغمة، ويؤدي لاكتشافات واختراعات جديدة.
والتحدي الآخر في فلسفة تعليمنا هو إصرارنا على إيجاد حل متحجر للمعضلة، وليس دراسة التعامل مع تحدياتها. فحينما نعتقد بأن هناك مشكلة محددة وهناك طريقة وحيده لحلها، ستتحجر عقولنا نحو طريقة واحدة جامدة، لحل ثابت، ومطلق. ومن الممكن أن لا يكون هذا الحل واقعي، بل لا يمكن تحقيقه، فنستمر في الخلاف حوله وتضيع السنين، لتتعقد المشكلة، وتنعدم الحلول. وهنا يمكن أن نشبه ذلك بسائق سيارة يواجه صخرة كبيرة في وسط الشارع، ويعتقد بأن هناك حل فريد، وهو بأن يتواكل على الله، ويسوق بسرعة فائقة، ليصطدم بالصخرة الكبيرة، فقد يستطيع تحريكها، لاعتقاده بأن الخالق، جل شأنه، سيغير جميع القوانين الفيزيائية، لتتماشى مع تواكله. وطبعا لن تتحرك الصخرة، ولكن ستتحطم سيارته، ويصاب بجروح بليغة، وقد يستمر، برعانة، في تكرار المحاولة. ومع الأسف الكبير، بأن تاريخنا العربي مليء بمثل هذه الأمثلة التاريخية، التي أدخلتنا في مجابهات وحروب، أدت لما نحن فيه. فقد نحتاج لتطوير فن دراسة الاحتمالات، وتعلم اكتشاف طرق مبدعة للتعامل معها. ويلزم ذلك تطوير فلسفة تعليمية تنير العقول بالتساؤل المستمر، وتدريبها على التعامل مع التحديات، وذلك بعرض المعضلة وتشجيع الطلبة على الحوار لمعرفة تشابكاتها وتحدياتها، وتمرينهم على طرق البحث عن المعلومة، المساعدة في أيجاد الطرق المناسبة للتعامل معها.
ولنعرض عزيزي القارئ بعض الأمثلة التاريخية في التعامل مع التحديات، فلنتذكر بأن الحرب الباردة استمرت لعقود طويلة بين الاتحاد السوفيتي والولايات المتحدة، بسبب تحجر العقول في خلاف رأسمالي شيوعي. وحينما زار غورباتشوف لفرنسا، وأستعد لتأمل الديمقراطية بعقل متفتح، والتعرف على نتائجها، وراقب ما يتمتع به الشعب الفرنسي، من حرية، وتطور اجتماعي، وثراء اقتصادي، أكتشف بأن دكتاتورية البوليتاريا عقيمة. وحينما أستلم دن زيو بنج القيادة في الصين، وأكتشف تحديات بلاده الاجتماعية، والاقتصادية، وتخلفها التكنولوجي، وبداء يقارن تخلف الصين بغناء الغرب، فقال مقولته، "ليس المهم أن يكون القط أسود أو أبيض، بل المهم أن يصطاد الفئران." ويعني بذلك أنه ليس من المهم أن يكون النظام رأسمالي أو اشتراكي، بل المهم أن يطور الاقتصاد، ويزيل الفقر والتخلف، وبذلك توجهت الصين لاقتصاديات الألفية الثالثة.
ولنطرح عزيزي القارئ معضلة أخرى في تعليمنا وهو التواكل. فيؤكد الحديث الشريف بأن علينا أن نعقل ونتوكل، ومع الأسف الشديد تحولت ثقافتنا العملية للتواكل لا التوكل. فلم نعد نهتم بالعمل الجاد المتقن، ولا نستفيد من الوقت الذي ان لم نقطعه قطعنا كالسيف. فهل خلق الخالق، جل شأنه، هذا الكون بقوانين فيزيائية دقيقة ومتقنة، أم ترك هذه القوانين فوضوية، تتغير في كل لحظة، حسب تواكلنا وصلواتنا؟ وهل الغاية من صلواتنا تطهير النفوس وتدريبها على القيم والأخلاقيات، أم لتحقيق جشعنا المادي ببناء قصور في الجنة؟ ألم يكرر الحديث الشريف مرارا أهمية العمل، وقدسية إتقانه، وأعتبره خير العبادات؟ ألم يؤكد ديننا الحنيف بأن نعمل لدنيانا كأننا سنعيش للأبد، ونعمل لأخرتنا كأننا سنموت في الغد؟
ومن تحدياتنا تعليمنا المستقبلية خلق التوازن بين العلوم الطبيعية والروحية. فتطوير اقتصادنا المستقبلي سيحتاج لتعليم متقدم في العلوم الطبيعية، كالفيزياء، والرياضيات، والكيمياء، ولكن هل سيكفي ذلك؟ أم سنحتاج أيضا لتطوير العلوم الروحية التي تعلم الإنسان السلوك السوي، للعمل كفريق متناغم ومنتج، وليتعامل مع مواطنيه، ووطنه، وموارده الطبيعية، بحكمة واتزان؟ وقد عبر التاجر الياباني، كوزو ايناموري، مؤسس شركة كيوسيرا، عن ذلك، بقله: "الفلسفة التي أؤمن بها هي أنه لن نطمئن على مستقبل البشرية إلا من خلال خلق التوازن اللازم بين تطور العلوم المادية والعلوم الروحية. وأعتقد بأنه يجب أن نخلق هذا التوازن في الإنسان بين ذكاءه الذهني، وذكاءه العاطفي، وسيطرة الإرادة. فالحضارة التي تهتم بالذكاء الذهني، وتبخس قيمة الروح، والعاطفة، والإرادة الإنسانية، هي حضارة آفلة... فمع بداية القرن الواحد والعشرين ستكون مسؤوليتنا الأساسية أن نرفع العلوم الروحية لنفس المستوى الذي وصلت إليه العلوم الطبيعية والتكنولوجية، لنستطيع التعامل مع اختراعاتها بحكمة، لنرفع من قدر أذهاننا ونشرفها." ولنا لقاء.
سفير مملكة البحرين في اليابان

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The return of pink panther

I was a pink panther fan, will watch them movies so many times, until I would walk the Telle Savales walk and talk his talk, but then the films became many, and there will be repeats of shots, so it could get boring at times. Of course you will say that this could happen in any sequel, I bet you this never happened in James bond movies, as it never had a repeat, I am a fan there too. It's amazing how the human brain can create roads and do many different maps and alternatives to normal routes. Give the same situation to 100 people and you will get a 100 or more solutions unless one was cheating of course.  Those that cheat are not idiots, it's just they couldn't be bothered to think and write what they are thinking about.  

Anyway, I am sure as always you would want to know why am I writing this preamble! It's because of the similarities between shooting of the same scene to use in similar movies, and the problems of airlines. Well, I am on Emirates again aren't I? And as you all know I am an emirates fan despite the repeat of its mishaps, and the umpteen number of problems I always had with them; the loss of bags, the breaking of bags, the bag getting soaked in water, the changing of seats, the never bringing what I ask for, the always having one problem or the other on their planes! However I am staying an Emirates Fan, why? Because I mistakenly think that the money that all of us THE FANS pay to Emirates is more than enough to keep the planes running, pay airports tax and hire great staff that take care of us the clients.  We have been played around with for long,  and I for once will not tolerate the fact that I pay a lot for my flight and receive a meagre treatment. Life has been good for you so far EK but not anymore, the Arab spring wants to change governments, I want to change the airlines, so I will call the new movement "the Aircraft spring, the return of the king" 

I think the Airlines should think twice before mistreating a client.  Say that everyone in this world decided they will not fly today! What is going to happen?  A lot of losses and many airlines will stop functioning.  It is time to reflect Mr and Mrs Airline? You are there to serve us not us begging you to transfer us from A to B.  and whatever the amount we pay, it should be enough to provide us with the best service that you promised us with.  If you mention that we will have 140 movies to watch, I expect that many movies? Not more not less, and a functioning screen.  Most of the times I keep quite about the mishaps, Like changing my seat, separating me and my kids in different seats in different compartments and so on, but today's is worse.  Let alone that we are on a very long overhaul and one becomes grumpy and want to continue to sleep despite the situations. 

One woman has a leg operation, she was placed in a window seat, I have a prefeence of isle seat, its on my set choices so that at least that they cannot change! The airhostess asks me to switch seats, I told her yes for sure but I want an isle seat, so she goes away. 

One of the TV screens wasn't working, the person with th broken screen complains, I am unlucky enough to have a free seat next to mine. So they ask me if I am fine to move, I agree, despite the fact that I wanted to spread my legs on the spare seat. 

We land in Bangkok and the crew change, so the new crew come to me and ask for the boarding pass. Of course it's different, so they give me the red eye! And the accusations of why was I on a different seat.  Now I did warn the previous crew to leave a detailed description of why am I on that seat! They assured me that they will!  They didn't. So I had to explain, and I am already grumpy after 15 hours flight,   they leave me alone, then the next checker comes by and asks me for the BP and explanation! Anyway this happens 5 times, at the end I lost my temper, flashed the card and said that I am a gold card holder and what is happening is a disgrace, as they are disturbing the pattern that I follow for my trip.  

I know that there is no point to complain, I can assu you that the Customer Complaint Dept at Emirates must be watching the ticket bookings, once they see my name there, they put the red herrings in my way. They love me, and love to hear my complaints, as I send them but never do anything about them? Okay, CC of Emirates, from on, the aircraft spring will follow up and demands that my complaint is compensated with a round the world ticket all expense paid on first class. Or else I will spend my 100k dirhams on a different airline, like air pakistan, where you pay little but expect little too. 

This is a call to all the travellors out there who often have a complaint, just log it as a tweet and let's count them. 
(no one is hurt I hope)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Strange encounters

Last week was a bit on the far side, with everything happening at once and life was not its usual sense. I had a tooth cap that fell, 2 students out of homestays and a student without a visa, not to mention a disgruntled mother who was upset as the university did not accept her daughter due to low grades, so she puts the blame on us; on top of this I had a conference where I have to meet a school in a 25 minutes slot, and so had about 22 meetings in each day. Prety hectic I would say.

Lets start from the beginning, as it’s the best way to start (oh! isn’t this the song in Sound of music?) my tooth was aching and I could feel some infection happening, so I poked it with a tooth pick, and soaked it in tooth paste, took many panadols, all didn’t help, at the end I used the nail trick, where you push your nail in a gap and try to find out if there is something stuck in between your teeth? Well that trick did work either, as while doing that the crown just came off, luckily I didn’t swolow it! That would have been a disaster I guess. So I kept it safely in a wee box that had the hair cap that you use if you don’t want to wash your hair, lucky, both are caps, so using that box was PC.

Then one of the students phoned and said that his homestay are travelling and are asking him to leave, I had cold sweat on my back, this is a disaster, as we signed up for 12 weeks, and why they changed to 6, and what not. I talked to the homestay parent who told me that he had booked his holiday, and he cannot change it and the student has to leave; when I said that the student is mature enough, he said that the insurance company will not allow that. finally I convinced the homestay that I will book the student in a hotel until he returns if he will take him back, he agreed. Finding a hotel is not simple either, but that was the easy part.

The second student was actually kicked out of his homestay. So I registered in a site that provided homestays, and what we found were not upto scratch, we found one, nevertheless that I had to talk to, but the payment was an issue, and we had to go through that hurdle with agony too. that was very stressfull time, fighting in between the meetings, and trying to sort out the payment and what not. The homestay shut the phone in my face, which angered me, and I had to send her an email long enough to kill any germ that you may have in your body. At the end all was cleared, and my student is happy in the new homestay.

The third student, who is my nephew was the disaster of the disasters; his visa had 2 days to expire, the money didn’t arrive and I had to scramble and get money from here, there and everywhere to pay the school, but it didn’t reach their account on time, so we decided he has to travel for a week and come back after we do a visa for him; thankfully immigration were at the conference and someone pointed out to me that I maybe hav eto talk to them. They were the best, they solved the problem in seconds and I had the relief of my life.

The emails from the disgruntled mum were not annoying, but threatening. She threatened to go to the police, the immigration, the newspaper, the university, and to every website in the world to complain about us?? Why? Because the university didn’t accept her daughter! As if anyone in this world knows us? And if she writes in the papers the whole country will riot against Suad Alhalwachi and her establishment for being insistive to a person’s feeling by conveying to them that a university had rejected their daughter. Of course I would also be upset if a university rejects my daughter, but I will be prepared to listen and apply to more than one unviersity just to avoid having to scramble the time in order to find other universities. At the end I thought, oh well, if after 10 years of work, one person complains about me, then it’s a small percentage, and I shouldn’t worry? But, I should worry, as students have different aptitudes, and can be rejected, so we have to always be good scouts, and be prepared to avoid such meshaps;

These lessons in life are valuable, and we live to learn. That is why I intend to put an evaluation form on our site so students tell us what they think, and give us suggestions. Jihad, a new job for you son.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Hotels! I got used to them now!!

I am so used to staying in hotels in the world now more than when I was at an age that will make me enjoy the benefits of staying in hotels (gym, pool, spa, Jacuzzi, and so on). however I have an eye for the decor and the design, and can some time see if the place is done up by a woman or a man, or it was just a replica of the chain of hotels which originally produced by a company by some unknown designers. The paintings in hotels are also interesting, only in few that I saw real paintings by famous artists, and some real sculptures too. Most of the hotels will only buy copies or prints of original paintings, its not that the guests will take the painting away for example, its just that the ownership and management is such that its separated, and those hired to do the job, may not put them selves in the shoes of the guests and think that maybe the guests are paying big bucks and deserve to have the best? well, it will be rare to find such managers.

Okay, why did I write the above long sentence that you need to read in one breath?? because of the contrast that I witnessed on this trip. The hotel in Queenstown is a standard chain hotel, the rooms are similar size, and the furniture are the same too, however it was done in an exquisite way. Some photos will show what I really mean:

The other hotel, is in a place that is not recognized anywhere in the world, despite having the largest university in the southern hemisphere, and 4 other colleges that are producing world class education. Palmerston North is the city, and the hotel is (I think) one and only, built (I think) by the owner and unique! Many African art pieces are scattered around the lobby, and inside each room, I surely hope that the fur piece placed on the bed is not real, otherwise my dreams tonight will surely be very interesting, some photos here and will leave it for you to decide which one you prefer:

Right, one of the Pictures do not belong to either hotels. I put it by mistake, and would like you to point it out. Good night for now.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Meeting friends that you haven't seen in ages

This is what I love to do, I am a very friendly and sociable person, I stay in touch and keep my friends, I am load, tell in the face and fry truthful, and those that do not mind these attributes stay on with me and never get angry. I did lose some people on the way throughout my life, maybe what I said upset them, or I must have done things that they didn't like, either way, they are correct.  To me some friends come to your for a specific purpose, when that is done you are them will vanish.  However I like to stay in touch, and find them wherever I go; of course technology made this very easy, however some of my best friends whom I knew prior to the advent of technology,  I cannot find them, so if you are reading this blog, contact me, some in Switzerland, some in Singapore and some in Nigeria. Of course I would love to stay in touch with my students and my lecturers? But having over a few thousand friends and acquaintances is not easy to manage.

One friend though I make sure I visit every time I am in Dunedin, Chanel.  We struck a friendship in 2003, when we both were in Oman on a roadshow, went to Salalah, memorable stories, people and hotel !!  And we continued to meet on and off.  Now she is out of the university scene and into doing different stuff, amongst them is writing of a play, discussing how to encourage art in Dunedin, a radio show that involves isn't viewing inspirational women. Basically, she could be the next Oprah; he husband is a write too and works in the same radio station. My daughter, her friend and I had enjoyed their company last night for dinner. It was lovely, we talked, laughed and discussed many subjects.  I wish I would meet her again.

I am on my way to Queenstown now, where I will meet with more friends and talk non stop for three days.

What's the point of writing this? Of course there is a point.  The amount of learning that happens is unbelivable, the number of other people we will know through these friends is also immense, and believe it or not, you relax when you meet friends, as you know that you are not alone nor lonely.  

Also friends keep hou entertained when you are down, refer you to people so you get more business out of them, and this is done without asking for a turn, and done genuinly, so people believe them, i for one would always recommend my friends, not sure about you guys, i believe that we all should give first then we take.  

One last sentence, i attended a confence once, they were encouraging people to start their own businesses, the quesion of capital came up, and how hard it is.  The speaker said that we must first approach the three F's! Can you guess who they are? Family, Friends and fools. The first two love us and trust us. And the last F dont know any difference.  

So go on guys, gather up with hour friends and family, learn from each other and borrow from each other, your business will be the best, could go to the Fortune 500 and you could be named the Entrepreneur of the year.

Good luck all with your friends. You deserve to have them, and I bet, they deserve to have you too.

The Vow

Okay, go ahead say it!! I see lots of movies so when do I have time to work, write, entertain and spend time with my family?  Don't even go there, I don't have time for all of this, time is made, created and abused. I abuse my time, try to squeeze in all the things that I like to do including a game or two of Solitaire when I am not able to sleep.

Nice movie, I often like this actress, her acting in Morning Glory was splendid, she is promising. I think she is like Hillary Swank in some ways, as you feel that she has conviction to her job, and tries hard to make it look real,  nothing like Sandra Bulluk and Julia Roberts of course, these two don't act, they live the role as if it real.  Something all actors must learn to do.  

The Vow sounded like the movie love story, but one cannot see the passion that we had felt when we watched love story, that was a real classic ( in actual fact I can visualise the story right now) and of course nothing like gone with the wind and Farewell arms, these guys are not born every day.

Having said all of that, I think every once in a while the producers should remind us that there is LOVE in this world, even if the actors cannot emit that light and cannot show the spark; our life is full of dramatic events, Arab Spring, demonstrations, diseases, earthquakes, tsunami, and a lot of every thing that is not nice, so having to go to the cinema and watch a thriller, a horror movie or a SCI FI maybe ok, but not all the time.  We need to be reminded that love and marriage is the key to having a great life, the basic ingredient is so important and its the only one that will make us absorb all life's problems and unexpected events like a sponge. There are times when the sponge will be full, so a movie that shows a relationship that has to stay is a good sign. I must look up the producer's name to thanks him