Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

And Everything Went Wrong

Five minutes ago there was another accident outside my house. I was on the phone before I even spotted it, calling 777.

The guy who hit the other guy is backing up and . . .DRIVING AWAY! There must be 20 witnesses with cell phones looking dumbfounded as he is driving away, but not so dumbfounded they are not taking photos of the car with their cell phones and writing down the license number. I am sorry, whoever was the hitter was dumber than dumb.

777 rings and rings. Some man finally answers, sounding annoyed, and when I ask for the traffic police, he says something – it didn’t sound very nice – and hung up on me. (The women must have gone home. They are always polite, efficient, and competant.) When I dialed the local police directly (yep, we’ve talked before so I DO have their number) NO ONE answers.

It is time for prayer, but . . . 20 minutes later, the hit car is still causing all kinds of traffic problems and no one can do anything because no police are coming.

Update – two minutes later, there are cops, there is an ambulance, and there are 20 people showing photos to the police of the numbskull who hit and run. Don’t you just love technology?

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March 3, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Community, Crime, Kuwait, Living Conditions | 14 Comments

Segregation – Integration – Choice

A fascinating new and very long article from The New York Times Magazine section discusses a school where boys and girls have a choice of integrated or segregated classrooms – in the same school.

I would have hated going to an all-girl school, and at the same time, I think it is far for people to have a choice in how they want to learn. What was right for me is not right for everyone else, and maybe not for YOU – or your children.

Here is a quote from deep in the article, about how things are succeeding at one same-sex school. I wonder how this technique would fly in Kuwait 😉

If a child arrives at 7:31 a.m., his parents will receive a call at 5:45 the next morning to make sure that boy will be at school on time.

By ELIZABETH WEIL
Published: March 2, 2008

On an unseasonably cold day last November in Foley, Ala., Colby Royster and Michael Peterson, two students in William Bender’s fourth-grade public-school class, informed me that the class corn snake could eat a rat faster than the class boa constrictor. Bender teaches 26 fourth graders, all boys. Down the hall and around the corner, Michelle Gay teaches 26 fourth-grade girls. The boys like being on their own, they say, because girls don’t appreciate their jokes and think boys are too messy, and are also scared of snakes. The walls of the boys’ classroom are painted blue, the light bulbs emit a cool white light and the thermostat is set to 69 degrees. In the girls’ room, by contrast, the walls are yellow, the light bulbs emit a warm yellow light and the temperature is kept six degrees warmer, as per the instructions of Leonard Sax, a family physician turned author and advocate who this May will quit his medical practice to devote himself full time to promoting single-sex public education.

Foley Intermediate School began offering separate classes for boys and girls a few years ago, after the school’s principal, Lee Mansell, read a book by Michael Gurian called “Boys and Girls Learn Differently!” After that, she read a magazine article by Sax and thought that his insights would help improve the test scores of Foley’s lowest-achieving cohort, minority boys. Sax went on to publish those ideas in “Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences.” Both books feature conversion stories of children, particularly boys, failing and on Ritalin in coeducational settings and then pulling themselves together in single-sex schools. Sax’s book and lectures also include neurological diagrams and scores of citations of obscure scientific studies, like one by a Swedish researcher who found, in a study of 96 adults, that males and females have different emotional and cognitive responses to different kinds of light. Sax refers to a few other studies that he says show that girls and boys draw differently, including one from a group of Japanese researchers who found girls’ drawings typically depict still lifes of people, pets or flowers, using 10 or more crayons, favoring warm colors like red, green, beige and brown; boys, on the other hand, draw action, using 6 or fewer colors, mostly cool hues like gray, blue, silver and black. This apparent difference, which Sax argues is hard-wired, causes teachers to praise girls’ artwork and make boys feel that they’re drawing incorrectly. Under Sax’s leadership, teachers learn to say things like, “Damien, take your green crayon and draw some sparks and take your black crayon and draw some black lines coming out from the back of the vehicle, to make it look like it’s going faster.” “Now Damien feels encouraged,” Sax explained to me when I first met him last spring in San Francisco. “To say: ‘Why don’t you use more colors? Why don’t you put someone in the vehicle?’ is as discouraging as if you say to Emily, ‘Well, this is nice, but why don’t you have one of them kick the other one — give us some action.’ ”

During the fall of 2003, Principal Mansell asked her entire faculty to read “Boys and Girls Learn Differently!” and, in the spring of 2004, to attend a one-day seminar led by Sax at the school, explaining boys’ and girls’ innate differences and how to teach to them. She also invited all Foley Intermediate School parents to a meeting extolling the virtues of single-sex public education. Enough parents were impressed that when Foley Intermediate, a school of 322 fourth and fifth graders, reopened after summer recess, the school had four single-sex classrooms: a girls’ and a boys’ class in both the fourth and fifth grades. Four classrooms in each grade remained coed.

Separating schoolboys from schoolgirls has long been a staple of private and parochial education. But the idea is now gaining traction in American public schools, in response to both the desire of parents to have more choice in their children’s public education and the separate education crises girls and boys have been widely reported to experience. The girls’ crisis was cited in the 1990s, when the American Association of University Women published “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” which described how girls’ self-esteem plummets during puberty and how girls are subtly discouraged from careers in math and science. More recently, in what Sara Mead, an education expert at the New America Foundation, calls a “man bites dog” sensation, public and parental concerns have shifted to boys. Boys are currently behind their sisters in high-school and college graduation rates. School, the boy-crisis argument goes, is shaped by females to match the abilities of girls (or, as Sax puts it, is taught “by soft-spoken women who bore” boys). In 2006, Doug Anglin, a 17-year-old in Milton, Mass., filed a civil rights complaint with the United States Department of Education, claiming that his high school — where there are twice as many girls on the honor roll as there are boys — discriminated against males. His case did not prevail in the courts, but his sentiment found support in the Legislature and the press. That same year, as part of No Child Left Behind, the federal law that authorizes programs aimed at improving accountability and test scores in public schools, the Department of Education passed new regulations making it easier for districts to create single-sex classrooms and schools.

Foley Intermediate School began offering separate classes for boys and girls a few years ago, after the school’s principal, Lee Mansell, read a book by Michael Gurian called “Boys and Girls Learn Differently!” After that, she read a magazine article by Sax and thought that his insights would help improve the test scores of Foley’s lowest-achieving cohort, minority boys. Sax went on to publish those ideas in “Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences.” Both books feature conversion stories of children, particularly boys, failing and on Ritalin in coeducational settings and then pulling themselves together in single-sex schools. Sax’s book and lectures also include neurological diagrams and scores of citations of obscure scientific studies, like one by a Swedish researcher who found, in a study of 96 adults, that males and females have different emotional and cognitive responses to different kinds of light. Sax refers to a few other studies that he says show that girls and boys draw differently, including one from a group of Japanese researchers who found girls’ drawings typically depict still lifes of people, pets or flowers, using 10 or more crayons, favoring warm colors like red, green, beige and brown; boys, on the other hand, draw action, using 6 or fewer colors, mostly cool hues like gray, blue, silver and black. This apparent difference, which Sax argues is hard-wired, causes teachers to praise girls’ artwork and make boys feel that they’re drawing incorrectly. Under Sax’s leadership, teachers learn to say things like, “Damien, take your green crayon and draw some sparks and take your black crayon and draw some black lines coming out from the back of the vehicle, to make it look like it’s going faster.” “Now Damien feels encouraged,” Sax explained to me when I first met him last spring in San Francisco. “To say: ‘Why don’t you use more colors? Why don’t you put someone in the vehicle?’ is as discouraging as if you say to Emily, ‘Well, this is nice, but why don’t you have one of them kick the other one — give us some action.’ ”

During the fall of 2003, Principal Mansell asked her entire faculty to read “Boys and Girls Learn Differently!” and, in the spring of 2004, to attend a one-day seminar led by Sax at the school, explaining boys’ and girls’ innate differences and how to teach to them. She also invited all Foley Intermediate School parents to a meeting extolling the virtues of single-sex public education. Enough parents were impressed that when Foley Intermediate, a school of 322 fourth and fifth graders, reopened after summer recess, the school had four single-sex classrooms: a girls’ and a boys’ class in both the fourth and fifth grades. Four classrooms in each grade remained coed.

Separating schoolboys from schoolgirls has long been a staple of private and parochial education. But the idea is now gaining traction in American public schools, in response to both the desire of parents to have more choice in their children’s public education and the separate education crises girls and boys have been widely reported to experience. The girls’ crisis was cited in the 1990s, when the American Association of University Women published “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” which described how girls’ self-esteem plummets during puberty and how girls are subtly discouraged from careers in math and science. More recently, in what Sara Mead, an education expert at the New America Foundation, calls a “man bites dog” sensation, public and parental concerns have shifted to boys. Boys are currently behind their sisters in high-school and college graduation rates. School, the boy-crisis argument goes, is shaped by females to match the abilities of girls (or, as Sax puts it, is taught “by soft-spoken women who bore” boys). In 2006, Doug Anglin, a 17-year-old in Milton, Mass., filed a civil rights complaint with the United States Department of Education, claiming that his high school — where there are twice as many girls on the honor roll as there are boys — discriminated against males. His case did not prevail in the courts, but his sentiment found support in the Legislature and the press. That same year, as part of No Child Left Behind, the federal law that authorizes programs aimed at improving accountability and test scores in public schools, the Department of Education passed new regulations making it easier for districts to create single-sex classrooms and schools.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Education, Experiment, Family Issues, Living Conditions, News, Social Issues | 3 Comments

Sabille Shop

I love sabilles. Sabilles are localized charity, “in a dry and thirsty land” they are provided by generous souls that the thirsty might have cool, fresh water to refresh thenselves in the heat of the day. You will see them at mosques, along city streets, in every neighboorhood. They come in fanciful shapes; if you type “sabille” into the HT&E search window, you will see more. I love the Kuwait Liberation Tower ones, and also the water-tower wannabes, but I also like the ones that look like old castles or old doors or jugs. I love it that people go to the trouble to make something utilitarian interesting, even artistic.

Recently, I found a shop in the Wafa Mall that sells sabilles:

00sabilleshop.jpg

The shop is called Fine Things, and also has some fancy presentation boxes and this, which looks like a mail box to me, but might be for collecting charitable donations, or . . . ? I might be totally wrong. Your guess is as good as mine:

00mailbox.jpg

I like this tiny little mall because it has commercial kitchen supply shops with all kinds of display cases and things you don’t find very often. There is also a mattress shop; I always laugh when there is a family shopping there for mattresses because the parents don’t say “NO!” to their kids, so the kids are JUMPING ON THE MATTRESSES! The salesmen seem unable to ask the parents to make them stop.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cold Drinks, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Exercise, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Shopping | 17 Comments

Just-Before-Sunrise 3 March 2008

Sunrise this morning was just another sunrise, no clouds, nothing to distinguish itself. But – just before sunrise – a whole other story:

00justbeforesunrise.jpg

It is 72°F / 22°C and very hazy, the kind of haze that also sends people to the hospital with aggravated asthma.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Social Issues, sunrise series | 7 Comments