Fixation in Progress...
En voila a small sample (in the end I picked only 15 questions to answer, not daring for more.)
1. How did you know that education is what you want to do in your life?
This is an insight that you gain both suddenly and in the long run. You complete an hour’s teaching and suddenly you just feel happy and satisfied. You take pride in having managed to complete your planning: to transfer the specific amount of information, to leave space for interaction with the students, to suggest further reading, to keep a positive spirit in class, balancing between the target (information-knowledge) and the condition (conversation, fun, getting more people involved with the subject, you and each other) without feeling pressed with side issues of authority. Concerning the insight that one gains in the long run, let me mention that at the
2. How do you view the process of teaching?
You know perhaps the fundamental concept of dialectics. How two different positions/subjects enter the process of dialogue (let us name them A and B), ready to prove, maintain, modify and change through interaction. It is a concept that appears early in Plato’s texts (4th century B.C.) and the manuals of Rhetoric. Here, I refer to Plato’s Dialogues, Socrates starts discussing serious issues with famous and less famous counterparts on the basis of openness and genuine respect. The success of his pedagogic approach would finally rely on forming a third position, which is neither A, nor B, not even A+B, but it is a brand new C>A+B. The process of teaching is one of the most delicate achievements of human mind. Normally we learn the basics by imitating, watching our parents, siblings, and our micro-environment. Teaching, especially academic teaching should be a step beyond this “natural” process. It can or, rather, should be the replacement of imitating an action with negotiating about the meaning. This is the difference between “doing” and “making sense of what we are doing”. Strangely enough though, you might have noticed that, to an alarming extent, societies and economies ask for practitioners instead of thinkers.
3. In your Greek I and II classes, you don't only teach language but you also try to familiarize you students with the culture as well. Why do you think this is important?
This approach developed more with time and it came along with my sense of pragmatism and my theoretical approach to language. I realized pretty early that two semesters of learning Greek language, in a program of three hours per week (which is the normal maximum for a student of U.J.) would not suffice in building up an adequate capacity of communication or the acquisition of an extensive and at the same time active vocabulary. Please note that English for example is taught in Jordanian schools, colleges and institutes for several years, the language is omnipresent in the daily life of an average student through TV, radio, songs or cinema and still the results are not always satisfactory. Just imagine what the results would be for a two-semester course, for a language that is not extensively used in
4. Do you think people value education enough in Jordanian society?
Unfortunately Jordanian youth is more enthusiastic about cars, fancy looks, and the persistent daydreaming of personal paradises which would include villas, cars (again) and the exciting jealousy towards a tycoon. It is a massive and typical American soap-opera fantasy. Many boys feel shy to carry books or even allow a notebook to reveal that they are currently students. And several girls care more about their mobile and tiny little leather bags. I hope that fashion will soon dictate bigger shapes and models. I witness complaints about not finding good and up-to-date books, but this is simply not true. Not only there are few good bookshops in
5. How would you describe your experience in
It has been an experience that helps me a lot. I use the present tense because the process is on-going and dynamic. I have not experienced any kind of cultural shock while being in
6. What do you like most about
Nobody has influenced me more than Cavafy, the Alexandrian Greek poet (1863-1933). His work was a strong arm that embraced me on the right moment. Since my adolescence (I mean for the last twenty five years almost) he has been my most stable companion. Cavafy broke in me the mirror of that so called and so much celebrated “simplicity”. The way he negotiates with the notions of memory and identity, and the way he implements his aesthetics have been training me in a worldview that possesses many features of post-structuralism. In this world, a world that stands beyond “simple” binary models, one never graduates, never has the final ‘summary-conclusion’ part typed; so one is allowed to remain playful and wondering. Perhaps, to put it this way, I retrospectively justify the reprimand of the Egyptian priest to Herodotus “Greeks, you remain children indefinitely”. Enshallah.
8. What is one important thing you would like to accomplish in the future?
Writing “it” all down, this would be my most far reaching accomplishment. By “it” I mean the numerous question marks I have gathered (and you see that they are a bit more than few), the instances and the periods, the tree and the forest.