My stance on working at HCT? Well, it’s a pretty good doss, provided you don’t take it at all seriously. So, in contrast to all the whingers on this blog, I would like to offer a positive voice on teaching at HCT, and reveal a hidden opportunity.
Firstly, if you really want to make a difference to the system of education at
HCT, you can start just by introducing a few of the elementary features of what
is normally believed to be ‘good teaching practice’. Although many of the
students behave like naughty school kids, with their typical disruptive and disrespectful behaviour, this actually offers immense scope for professional development. For example, many of my students enjoyed asking stupid questions, scraping their chairs loudly on the floor, and falling into exaggerated fits of coughing whenever I opened my mouth to speak. Addressing these issues means that I can write a paper about the application of a wide range of motivational techniques – often when I am supposed to be teaching!
Another example of the students' exemplary application was the fact that they were
often keen to sit there doing nothing, except chatting with their friends and toying
with their mobiles. This general reluctance to write anything, except on the
desk, sometimes meant that the class was carried out in the traditional oral manner
that the students felt most comfortable with. Again, this problem offered
another opportunity for activating the theory-practice dichotomy, and especially for the advocacy of not imposing
text-based Western approaches to learning. Moreover, as many of my male
students would constantly leave the classroom to chat with their friends, and others
would randomly enter the classroom whenever they felt the need to speak with a
classmate, this underlined the fact that they assigned an inverted sense of importance
to formal Western notions of discipline, clearly prioritising the local culture.
In most cases, the students failed even to bring along their course books and pens,
again illustrating their attachment to the traditional oral methods of the transferral
Even the fact that many HCT teachers live in fear of complaints from students, together with the sure knowledge that the college management will not support them, means that a professional development opportunity presents itself once more. In fact,
I am currently considering writing a paper regarding the crucial aspect of how teachers can preserve their integrity in a Gulf teaching environment without having to assert any of the approved attendance, discipline and homework policies, out of the very real fear that the students will complain and the teacher’s employment be terminated. However, this one might be a little more difficult than I first envisaged!
So, the moral here is: if you’re prepared to come and work at HCT, come prepared to do some research!