Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

Since discovering I can borrow a cable (the school seems to have two audio cables for the whole EP section, and only one long enough for the computer lab) and hook up sound to a speaker in the back of the computer room - play time (as in computer class) has become much more bearable. If nothing else, I'm exposing my students to U.S. music besides Lady Gaga and her cohorts. Though her songs and many other American pop songs are often more readily heard than Thai, K-Pop or J-Pop depending on where you are in Bangkok. Thank goodness for youTube.

Debating about next project - this one is dragging on and on between sports-o-rama week and midterms. Definitely nothing requiring much - between handy drives (the Thai phrase for flash drives) eaten by viruses, internet outages and the like - it's pretty much where tech was at in the states over a decade and a half ago - with slightly newer operating systems, some nicer programs, even more malicious viruses - and fewer people over age 14 with any clue about how to use it or maintain it. Oh! Foreigner! Knows computers - can teach! Right.

And of course there is switching the whole lab off at the breaker box - which one of my students just did with the teacher's computer/server running and myself in mid typing - (something else, I wrote this entry in a paper journal first) - I'm not annoyed. I am not annoyed. It's great for computer well being to cut the power like that all the time.

It's better if I think of myself as an entertainer who happens to randomly give assignments; and has no responsibility for maintaining any of the equipment at all. This school does not take computing seriously, not just from a maintenance stand point. Part of why it's the hot potato class. Whatever, I'm sticking with it, presuming I have that choice - with a little more time (with functional equipment) I know I can do a little better. I have to bite the bullet on the breaker box though. I've shut out the concept of having the computer lab in this building as opposed to continuing to commute to the 'old' building and losing about half of the class time (it's already only 50 minutes a week, minus bathroom field trip, minus computer boot up, minus commute between buildings, minus trying to calm students down after walking between buildings...). It probably won't be done by June, when next school year begins.

Also - I can't get anything done in the computer lab after school for even 20 minutes before the janitor is waving his arms and proclaiming things in Thai about how we have to lock everything up. Makes it really difficult to plan anything, figure out what the student computers can actually do or even finish shutting down properly. I'm currently on the one free computer for all EP teachers (in the new building, Thai office), it has only been set up about a week and a half or so since the building move. It's really frustrating that all the foreign English teachers have been pigeon holed into one office, Thai teachers in another. Like it wasn't already obvious and awkward enough. Of course the foreigners will prefer to mingle with each other (HA) and not try to talk to Thai teachers, let's facilitate the segregation.

Maybe this all wouldn't bother me so much, the tech any way, if the school couldn't afford a better setup - but it's all aesthetics, all smoke and mirrors. The school brochure already boasts the merits of the computer lab and library that are barren rooms upstairs in the new building. The school had a multi course New Year's celebration lunch catered the last day of midterms (photos when I have that ability). Yet the building is unfinished enough that students have been injuring themselves more than usual on jagged unfinished edges of things. One of my M.3's was messing around yesterday and ended up requiring a row of stitches on his scalp from something metal jutting out of a wall he jumped into. The juxtaposition of these and other issues besides just culture shock have been rather maddening.

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