All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Monday, 27 February 2006

The Putz.

The putz who happens to be Mayor of you-know-where has been barred from office for…wait for it….a whole month…..as a result of his comments to a Jewish journalist last year – comparing the young man to a Concentration Camp Guard, just because the journalist asked him a few questions he didn’t happen to like.

As usual, the loony left has gone to town over this. Apparently, it’s a question of censuring freedom of speech.

Oh yeah?

So freedom of speech allows an elected official to make a highly offensive comment about concentration camps…to a Jewish journalist (who happened to have lost his relatives in the Holocaust….in a camp) does it? Freedom of speech entitles this loser of a man to offend virtually every person of the Jewish faith – just for the hell of it?

I think not.


To add insult to injury, the jerk refuses to apologise, despite numerous requests from no less a person than the leader of his party (and the UK) – just to make a so called ‘point’.

Having been shown up to be the anti-Semite that we’ve always known him to be, he now has the nerve to “appeal the sentence”.

Does this man know no shame?

More importantly, why can’t his “supporters” see him for his true colours. We know that he doesn’t give a damn about the people he represents. It’s all about the prestige that he thinks he has.

The man sickens me in every way possible. I’ve voted twice against him. Maybe it will be a case of third time lucky.

Wait a minute! I’ve just realised that I too am exercising my right to freedom of speech. The only difference is that in my case, I’m echoing the thoughts of millions of people.

Can the same be said about him?

(and the answer is probably “yes”)

One-Liners.

I was sent these one-liners and some of them really cracked me up (especially no 12):

1) I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with 'Guess' on it. I said Thyroid
problem?'

2) When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I
realised that The Lord doesn't work that way, so I stole one and asked him
to forgive me.

3) I've often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go
swimming.

4) I was doing some decorating, so I got out my step-ladder. I don't get on
with my real ladder.

5) I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered
French Toast during the Renaissance.

6) A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston Bypass.
Motorists are asked to be on the lookout for 16 hardened criminals.

7) Well I was bullied at school, called all kinds of different names. But
one day I turned to my bullies and said 'Sticks and stones may break my
bones but names will never hurt me', and it worked! From there on it was
sticks and stones all the way.

8) My Dad used to say 'always fight fire with fire', which is probably why
he got thrown out of the fire brigade.

9) Sex is like bridge: If you don't have a good partner, you better have a
good hand.

10) I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbour said
'Are you going to help?' I said 'No, six should be enough.'

11) If we aren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of
meat?

12) I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and
give the wrong answers.

13) You know that look women get when they want sex? No, me neither.

14) Politicians are wonderful people as long as they stay away from things
they don't understand, such as working for a living.  

15) I was the kid next door's imaginary friend.

16) Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

My Road.

Some of you who read my last post (including my dear parents) are asking themselves a very worthwhile question – if I’m having such a hard time at the school, why stay?

To paraphrase the great Tevye (From Fiddler In The Roof), I stay because “The School is my home”.

Let me explain.

I am on the road to becoming a newly qualified teacher. That road is filled with numerous potholes, oil slicks and off-piste lay-bys. I could find the nearest taxi rank and hope that a car would come along and take me to my destination. Alternatively, I could continue my journey on that rocky road; avoid as many potholes as possible; get up and dust myself down when I slip on the oil and find my way back to the path when I venture off into unchartered territories.

Eventually, I would still arrive at the same destination and hope that when I travelled along another rough and tumble road, I’d have enough sense and experience to avoid the various curve balls that undoubtedly would be tossed along my way.

The school I am teaching at is not a place for quitters. In such an environment, you need swim in order to survive. Yes, the rapids are fierce and sometimes I find myself swept a little up-river but I know that my final destination is at the end of that long, winding and pretty stormy river. The kids can steal my memory stick, call my Jew Teacher and even take swings at me, but when I do decide to move to an easier school, the experience that I’ve shored up along the way will no doubt get me into pole position in the race to fill a teaching post that I really want.

Additionally, the staff at the school are some of the most decent people I’ve ever worked with and it is these individuals who keep me going on those days when the wild, wild river overflows and submerges the rocky, hole-ridden path.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

The Jew Teacher.

It can't be that often that a teacher discovers his nickname. I would of course expect it to be a childish play on my surname or suchlike.

I wish it were that simple.

No, my nickname appears to be "The Jew Teacher". How do I know this? Because I've heard numerous kids referring to me in this derogatory fashion - in the belief that I was out of earshot.
I know I'm the "Jew Teacher" because I'm one of only two in the school and the other one isn't really teaching.

Am I offended? Slightly.

Surprised? No.

I would however be surprised if the ignoramouses who called me this moniker actually bothered to call me the Jewish teacher. Then again, one can't expect racist kids to bother too much about grammar. So there you are. I work my arse off to give these little ***** an education and my only recognition I get is to be called the JEW teacher.

When I went to school, we had plenty of teachers who were not of the faith. We also had nicknames for them, some which were quite rude, but I cannot recall any Gentile being referred to as "The Goy Teacher"? It just wouldn't occur to us to be so derogatory. They were simply a "non-Jewish teacher". Never a "Goy".

Yesterday, one kid in my class asked this question to another: "where is his Jew hat" (referring to my skullcap). Without a beat, I replied: "on his Jew head". The kid was taken aback as he
a) didn't expect me to hear this and
b) certainly didn't expect an answer from that "Jew".

I sometimes wonder if I'm teaching these kids anything - not least respect for someone who doesn't share their same religious beliefs. The fact that these children will leave school with their blinkered views probably still intact does nothing to reassure me that my presence in the school means no more to them than a computing lesson which takes up seventy minutes of their week.

Teaching should be more than that.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Teaching By Expulsion.

I was back at school after the half-term break. The kids were eerily calm. Should I complain, or just enjoy it, before they realise that the holiday’s over and we teachers are there for a reason, other than just greeting them and asking how their holiday went.

One particularly obnoxious kid (whom I don’t teach) has finally been expelled and one could see visible relief on the face of some of the teachers when this expulsion was announced at the early morning staff meeting. On this very subject, I am currently compiling a list of other kids I want to see going the same way, but I don’t know what the odds of success are.

Aren’t we teachers a nasty lot?!

Just think about it this way – we are human beings and we do need to get our revenge against some of the truly horrific kids in some way or another. At least the little so and so’s live another day – and then make some other teachers’ lives (in a far away school) as miserable as possible. Then again, those very same teachers might have smiled when they heard that another kid had been sent from their school to ours.

I guess some parts of teaching do come under the “dog eat dog” banner, after all.

Shira's Very Important Day.

I can hardly believe it.

This morning, my baby, Shira, who isn’t even 2½  years old, is starting kindergarten.

Where has the time gone? This time last year, she was still learning to speak. This time two years ago, she wasn’t even walking!

Today, all four of my daughters will be spending some time in an educational establishment (as will I, come to think of it.)

Man I feel old!

Sunday, 19 February 2006

The Pre-Birthday Girls.

It’s been a wonderful family day.

We started celebrating Tali and Dana’s impending birthdays (on Wednesday).

Firstly, a delicious lunch at a popular Kosher restaurant (Solly’s) and then a glorious party at our house (which was understandably more centred around Tali).

I get the feeling that this is going to be a great week, with the highlight being mid-week when the girls start their new respective years.

Ain’t family grand?

The Case For "The Moderate".

The new Palestinian Prime Minister, a Hamas terrorist called Ismail Haniyeh is being described as a “moderate or a pragmatist” by the western media.

Can someone please explain how this person can be a ‘moderate’ when, in response to a question about whether Hamas would give up the armed struggle (at the time when Israel was leaving Gaza), he stated:

We should protect the resistance option and the resistance weapons...these weapons liberated the land and by these weapons, we will continue the liberation process."

Very pragmatic indeed.

Let’s give him another chance and look at another of his pronouncements (from 23rd July 2002)

“Anyone who dreams of so-called peace is mistaken. There is nothing called ‘peace with Israel.”

Moderate? Hmmm.

I really must not be too harsh, I mean, surely the media wouldn’t lie about this mild mannered ‘freedom fighter’ would they?

I’ll tell you what. Let’s give him one more chance to prove his credentials as someone with whom Israel can negotiate. Let the moderate prove himself through his spoken words:

“At the beginning of February, Haniyeh asked the EU to understand the "Palestinian reality" and not ask Hamas to disarm. Doing so would "increase the suffering of our people who are looking for freedom, right of [refugee] return, and independence," he said. “

Ah, I get it. This guy wants peace and independence….and the right to have his people walking around armed to the teeth. Yes, this man really wants to foster a peaceful relationship with his neighbours, doesn’t he?

Your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, having reviewed the aforementioned evidence, I have come to this conclusion:

If this guy is a ‘moderate/pragmatist’, I’d hate to think what the media would call a ‘radical’.

Case closed.

Saturday, 18 February 2006

Lateral Thinking Puzzles.

I've just come into the possession of some lateral thinking puzzle books. I thought it would be fun to include a puzzle here each week and get your gray matter working.

Please feel free to submit your answers at any time. I will gladly comment on any response (whether right or wrong!) and will give you the answer mid-week if you don't get it (which I'm sure won't be the case, granted you're a clever bunch!).

The first teaser in about a third of the way down on the left hand column.

Good luck!

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Movie Review: March Of The Penguins.



I took the kids to see this movie but in all honesty, I don't think that was a particularly good idea. The girls didn't know where we going and when we got to the cinema, they wanted to see Chicken Little! Interestingly enough, Michal, the youngest seemed to enjoy it the most, whilst Dassi (aged 8½) hated every minute (although secretly, I could see that she was quite enraptured with what was going on - when she got over her prejudice about seeing a movie that had no ' action', as she put it, involved).

The movie tells the "story" of how Emperor Penguins make the 70+ mile march to a remote ice shelf somewhere in the freezing Antarctic, to meet a mate and reproduce.

I won't give the narrative away by telling you what happens but will categorically state that this is a fascinating and at times incredible motion picture. How the cameramen managed to get the images they did is remarkable. I came away with a greater understanding of the way in which Penguins, to whom I have a new found respect, survive in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. These birds could certainly teach the rest of us humans a lesson in what are the real priorities in life.

My only gripe is that some of the images are so pixellated, that they would probably play much better on TV. When the female penguins finally get to the water (you'll understand if you've seen the film), the aquatic shots are quite a let-down, particularly when compared to the crisp images on the ice. Similarly too, the beauty of the Southern Lights is lost by very suspect camerawork. Were I editing the film, I know that I would have certainly cut the latter out as it does take away from the majesty of the rest of the movie and it is this slight annoyance that stops me awarding March Of The Penguins a full "Five Teacher" rating.

For any nature lovers out there and even if you're not, please see this movie, but exercise discretion in taking young kids, despite the "U" certification (or "G" in the US).

The Teacher's Rating

(out of 5)

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

The VP

Hello,

Please let me introduce myself. I am Vice-President (VP) of the United States. That means that I am potentially the most powerful person in the world (in case my boss decides to either choke on a pretzel or break his neck after falling off a scooter). I have a serious heart condition and instead of taking it easy, I like to spend my time shooting birds.

I have been invited to a friend’s house. He just happens to be a millionaire who supports the Party which has placed me where I am today.

So, what do I do?

I know, I’ll go shooting. Even better, I’ll shoot the millionaire in the face with a bird pellet and then claim that I was mistaking him for a quail.

Oh, I almost forgot.

I’ll then go and hush it up for twenty four hours so that the world’s press might give me a little breathing space.

For those of you who are worried about Bin Laden sending off some more terrorists or Iran blowing the world to smithereens… you can relax, because with all things being considered, I am more of a liability to world peace than anyone else on the planet.

My only hope is that my boss is slightly less of a shmuck than I am.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Beslan And Hamas.

The Russians are obviously feeling the need to invite the Hamas terrorists to Moscow, thereby giving them the legitimacy they so crave from a European nation. The fact that Russia is no more than a has-been third world ex-super power seems to have slipped the minds of the bearded fruitcakes who will be visiting the former KGB lieutenant colonel.

Putin seems to have conveniently forgotten that the Palestinians he’s cosying up to, are no different to the Chechen scum who massacred the school kids in Beslan, in September 2004. Both groups are Islamic Fundamentalists who share the same ideals - both Hamas and the Chechens get a kick out of killing little children.

Then again, it doesn’t really matter, because the Russian Government and it’s citizens will shit in their pants when the Iranians who were happy to accept Russian nuclear technology pass their weapons over to the Chechens for “safekeeping”. Let’s think…New York, Madrid, London…..Moscow?

I hope that Putin and his guests choke on their alcohol-free vodkas.

The Teacher As A Student.

One of the few delights of teaching a subject like I.T is that I can tinker about with my computer and incorporate any knowledge I glean (from my adventures) into the content of my lessons.

Using newsgroups is a case in point.

Now that I’ve left AOL (hooray!), I’m just like everyone else around, in that I use Outlook Express as my main email client. I’ve set up accounts for Dana and myself and even gone as far as re-directing my hotmail emails into the very same program.

So far so good.

Yesterday, I decided to explore the topic of newsgroups, keeping in mind that I need to teach my Year 13s what they are, how they work and most importantly, how to set them up. I started my journey of knowledge by subscribing to a few groups (two about The Beatles and another for Paul Simon fans). I downloaded the messages therein, got rid of the 1000+ postings and decided to start receiving all messages anew.

The folders remained empty for a while and then slowly, a trickle of postings started to come through. I diligently read each one, replied to any that I felt I could comment on and in the process, ended up making a new acquaintance in Paris of all places (one of the offshoots of newsgroups that I hadn’t previously considered).

One of the Paul Simon postings referred to someone looking for a “torrent” - a computing term that I’d come across but never really understood. I decided to investigate some more and entered the rather fascinating and new world of Bit Torrents, which I won’t explain right now but if you are interested, you can find out more by clicking here.

So, in one short session, I had discovered two new topics to teach my class and since their unit is all about the internet, I had unwittingly stumbled across some very useful lesson resources.

Fortunately, this class is one of the few who, as a whole, express an interest in learning. It’s just a shame that they need to reach the age of 17 to appreciate that the hours I put into my lesson planning are purely for their benefit….and thinking about it, mine too.

Now that I’m on a break, I can re-assess what it is that I really enjoy about teaching. In saying that, one area that I really get a real buzz out of, is developing my own subject knowledge. The teaching profession is currently pushing the notion of teachers as learners. As you can see from the above, I’m fully in agreement with this idea.

The minute we teachers stop being students, is the time when we need to hang our hats on the wall, lock our classrooms for the very last time and leave this challenging but ultimately worthwhile profession.

Sunday, 12 February 2006

Sunday, The Start Of A Brand New Week...

Friday 3.15 p.m. heralded the start of an extraordinarily welcome week-long break.

For some unfathomable reason, the kids have been more challenging during the last six weeks than throughout the whole of the Winter term. Dana says it seems that way because we (i.e. the teachers) only got 2 ½  weeks break before diving back into it…which makes me wonder how any of us are going to survive the next two months, when we’ve only got this one measly week to re-charge our batteries (and minds).

The usual Winter flu bugs are enjoying their stay chez nous. Dassi and Shira are down with temperature and Dana is out tutoring her kids. I’m taking a break from all things school-related, if only to remind myself that there really is life worth living outside the institution (lol).

It is the start of a new week and I intend to ensure that my need for R&R is fully addressed.  Saying that, you can expect more posts from me on a worringly frequent basis, as I slowly descend into the netherworld of potty training, family squabbles and housebound lunacy.

Maybe school ain’t so bad after all…

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

A Better Competition.

The Associated Press reports that “an Iranian newspaper says it is going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West will apply the same principles of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide against Jews as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed”.

Why bother? Virtually every day in some Arab country, a newspaper prints an anti-Semitic cartoon either denying the Holocaust or depicting the Jews as world dominators - and the West does nothing about it.

Let’s run a different competition, along the lines of finding out which country can think of the best excuse to bomb Iran for developing nuclear weapons.

I think I already know the winner….

Monday, 6 February 2006

Year 10s III

The day of the detention finally arrived and in hindsight, I have to say that it was pretty much of an anticlimax. Most of the kids came, we chatted and they went home. The only funny part was the one student whom I don’t teach, approaching me at lunch and asking why I had sent a letter home, informing his parents of the detention…

…needless to say, he didn’t turn up!

Sunday, 5 February 2006

Leave Us Alone!

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the fruitcakes who were rallying against that cartoon  in the Danish newspaper would start blaming the Jews.

The Jerusalem Post reports that a Belgian Dutch Islamic group has posted cartoons on its website, one of which disturbingly shows Anne Frank in bed with Hitler.

The fact that the original cartoons about Mohammed were drawn by a non-Jewish cartoonist, writing for a non-Jewish newspaper in a country that has a miniscule Jewish population doesn’t seem to matter in the overall scheme of things.

It’s nice to see that Anti-Semitism is alive and well in this  new century of tolerance. Then again, it doesn’t really matter because six million Jews didn’t die as there was never a Holocaust and virtually every member of my grandmother’s family just felt the need to disappear from the face of the planet between the years of 1939 and 1945.

You see, the problem with all of this, is that the whole thing is going to die down and no-one with any power or authority will have the balls to stand up to these fruitcakes. Who is going to teach them once and for all that we Jews have just about had enough of  being victimised and attacked? We’re sick of being scapegoats and enough is bloody well enough.

A Well Needed Rest.

Today, I am thanking G-d that I am an Orthodox Jew. After a week like the one that finished on Friday, I was in serious need of R&R. The arrival of the Sabbath forced me to disengage myself from the turmoil that filled my mind and take a break from all matters linked to school.

I took advantage of the day and let my mind detox over the twenty five hour period. True, it wasn’t that easy to unwind and I was still thinking about the week at five o’ clock yesterday morning, but with the continued presence of the Sabbath, I started to relax and remember that there is a life outside school.

When the Sabbath went out I started on the unenviable task of grading about a hundred kid’s folders. I managed to get through marking one class-worth of kid’s work last night and finished off the rest this morning and now it’s done, I need to start preparing my lessons for the week.

I don’t really like these marathon marking sessions and I should probably think of a better way to get them sorted out, but the nature of the subject I teach means that we tend to mark a lot in batches.

This evening we have a quiz supper at the girls’ school. We sat on the winning table for two years in a row, so I am definitely a man on a mission. The only downside is that I will need to spend most the day doing the work that I tend to leave until early Sunday evenings.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

My Very Steep Learning Curve.

I would love to relate some bright, sunny teaching experiences but unfortunately, if today is anything to go by, these won’t be forthcoming in the near future.

I have had a horrendous day. During the first period, my Year 11 Citizenship class was moved to another room, to hand over the computers to some other students (also Yr 11) who really needed to use them.

My class was so “put out” by having to move that they decided to go around the room and take mice, keyboards, network connections etc out of the computers, so as to inconvenience the next group as much as possible and demonstrate their displeasure at being moved.

I have yet to meet a more spiteful bunch of little so and so’s.

I was so incensed by their selfishness that I am arranging to give all their future Citizenship lessons in a non-computer room, to impress upon them the fact that their “right” to use the computers is not automatic. I know that this probably means that I’m making life harder for myself, in terms of having to plan yet another lesson, but if I let this go by, what kind of message to give out?

If that wasn’t bad enough, I had a heated run-in with a Year 9 student during the next lesson. This child has learned zilch in my class since starting in September and today decided that instead of disrupting the class as per usual, he would sit quietly, totally disengaged from what was going on( in the lesson) and surf the net whilst wearing earphones and listening to music.

I picked him up on this, told him to switch his machine off and take the earphones out. He flipped and the shouting match that ensued, resulted in the headmaster getting involved;  this being excluded and my having a really interesting and productive lunch with the Head discussing teaching methods and how to deal with similar situations in the future. I only hope that I will one day I’ll  be able to handle a situation like this in the same professional and calm manner that he exhibited.

I’m still an NQT (newly qualified teacher) and sometimes, this lack of experience gets me into some serious trouble. The Head told me that he had intervened because he was concerned about my safety (it was a VERY heated argument!) whilst my main objective was to get this intelligent kid to stop messing around and actually come out of my class with some sort of computer knowledge and skills. At no time during the incident did I consider that I might be putting myself in harm’s way.

It’s been a horrible day but I suppose the silver lining to this very dark cloud is that I hope I’ve developed a greater understanding of how to handle - or more importantly, avoid - similar explosive situations in the future. If I don’t learn from this, I could end up getting hurt.

No job is worth ending up in hospital for.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Back In The Jungle.

I suppose that in hindsight, visiting that school yesterday may not have been such a good idea. Returning to my class and having to endure the frankly obnoxious behaviour of many of the kids this afternoon, impressed upon me the fact that not all teachers have to go through teaching students who don’t seem to give a shit about their education and don’t possess a single iota of respect for anyone, not least themselves.

However, thinking about my attitude, I realise that I was being unfair to “my” kids.

I need to remember that they don’t come from the same privileged homes as those I met yesterday. Maybe, yesterday’s school children reminded me of the kind of educational milieu that I grew up in, if only these children they seemed to show more respect to their teachers. I witnessed fellow professionals who spoke to classes of listeners and interacted with students who wanted to get involved in lessons. Those kids seemed to have the thirst for learning that I know I possess. Of course, I could be wrong and it’s dangerous to form impressions on observations of just a few lessons – but the difference in attitude was startling.

I went to school today, less tolerant than I should have been and so my feelings of disappointment and frustration were all the more acute. I was more argumentative than usual and even found myself biting my tongue when I was telling some horrible Year 10 students to get out of the Dining Hall. I came out with “move your fat….” but thankfully stopped myself before “arses” left my lips. In short, I’d forgotten that as a teacher, I need to be above all that, even if the little bastards pushed me to the point that I wanted to speak to them in the only language they seem to comprehend.

I guess that, sometimes, staying within your own little bubble does have its advantages. Tomorrow may not be easier, but it will already be one day further away from the image of the kind of classes that I’d like to see myself teaching one day.

However, my kids do deserve a better teacher than I was today.

Another Point Of View.

One of the Senior Management Team members arranged for me to spend the day in another school, to observe how teachers taught students in a different environment. Armed only with my Tom Tom and some confidence, I made my way across town to the school.

It was a truly illuminating day, not least because I picked up some great teaching tips as well as some really useful resources. I sat in on four lessons, two in IT, one on Religious Education followed by the final period of the day - Maths. The staff were really great and the students reminded me that just because you’re 14 doesn’t mean you have be obnoxious (slight exaggeration I know!!!).

A really good day. Now let’s see if I can put any of my new ideas into practice.