Quality training

Obviously it’s been very interesting for me to be on the ohter side of the classroom divide over here in Kenya. My trainers here are kenyans, one of them’s a woman, and a muslim too, the first I’ve really met in Kenya. She doesn’t shake hands. Or perhaps she doesn’t with men. I wasn’t expecting that when I first met her and I’ve been completely trained to shake everyone’s hands over here that I fell for it when I first met her, thinking I was culturally obliged to greet her. My friend from Uganda met her today and fell into the same moment of awkwardness. He confided in me (so I’m going to publish it here!) that he felt very embarrassed.

Also interesting was the part of our course on Best Practises in education. Now this is a subject that interests me a lot and I have way too much to say on the topic; I can’t write it all here now sadly. But I have to mention that the powerpoint slides they were using for the lesson (provided by Cisco I think from the look-and-feel) were the second-worst sort: those made up of just bullet lists of text.

(if anyone is intrested, the worst sort are those that have **so much** text in the bullet lists that the designer has to reduce the font size to fit it all onto a page and then the stuff can’t be read by the audience. If you know of a worse sort of powerpoint slide than that, please post a comment and let me know. I have a prize for the absolute worst).

The slide on Use Of Visual Aides (or something of that sort) had a list of diagram types… no illustrations. we spent some time wondering what some of them might look like; if only there had been… some visual aides.

The problem with teaching about good teaching is that the subject matter focuses the student’s mind (well this student’s at any rate) on the delivery. A tough call for anyone. I tried to hold back my criticism of the Kenyan education system and managed to start a discussion among the trainers and my colleagues about such problems as how to motivate our students to participate in experimental student-centred, problem sovling activities of the sort espoused by the Best Practises slides. That was the best part of the course. Most of the rest of the time, it has to be said, the trainer was just reading the bloody powerpoint slides.

Also on this topic… in the past when I have been given training or instruction on presenting or teaching, eye-contact has always ben emphasized as an important aspect of delivery. The rules for that must be totally different in Kenya where, I’m told, it is considered **rude** for students to look directly at their teacher’s face. Appropriate behaviour, it is reported, is to look down or to the side while being personally addressed by the teacher. Failure to do so might result in chastisement.

Beam me up, Scottie. :doze: But not until I’ve had at least one more go at this classroom thing…


  1. Mungbean Says:

    the ABSOLUTE worse PPT is lots of small text, in a serif font, in a colour combination that means that even if you have perfect eyesight you still have no chance of reading it! (red on blue, anyone?!! — I’ve seen HC-bloody-I lecturers do this!!!!)

    Also whoever designed those bloody awful standard templates, especially that one with the random-coloured squares up the top, needs to be taken outside and severely beaten.

    BTW, regarding etiquette with Muslim women… touching is definitely a no-no, and you shouldn’t even be up close. Guess it’s different in a 100% or predominantly Muslim country, but when I was working in Malaysia I was told never to get into a lift if there was a woman on her own in there, or I could get into trouble. (A woman’s not supposed to be on her own with a man she doesn’t know.) Not sure how much of this is Sharia (muslim law) or just convention.

    I guess any Islamic woman who’s at all religious will have a headscarf so at least you’ve got something to look out for!


  2. natty Says:

    "I guess any Islamic woman who’s at all religious will have a headscarf so at least you’ve got something to look out for!"

    Unless you’re in France. *rolls eyes*

    I took a class on the history of Islam in college, and though I didn’t do as much of the reading as I should have, I somehow don’t think Mohammad received any prophecies from God specifically about women in elevators, being the 7th century and all. I’m sure that idea came later.

  3. Webmaster Says:

    OK Natty, what do you want the *rolls eyes* emoticon to look like? :confused:

  4. Lydia Says:

    The worst powerpoint slides are those made by people who think that the powerpoint will do the teaching for them and forget that powerpoint is a tool for teaching just like flashing pink starlights, cartoon ladies with punk hair, maggots and leaflets on pubic lice are just tools for teaching. Anyone who forgets that powerpoint is the tool not the teacher will invariably have a powerpoint that is soporific in the extreme. And anyone who makes powerpoint slides with soft focus leaves down the side should have a red hot poker inserted into the orifice of their choice.

  5. tyg Says:

    What drivel! (me a Muslim from Malaysia who DOESN’T wear a headscarf!). That was just people trying to scare you prof mungbean. I have personally witnessed my father walking into a lift with his head-scarfed collegue while having a discussion on some aspect of the business or other …

    Yes, there is shariah law against women being alone with men who they are not related to, but Malaysians are not that backward that they’d take you in for sharing a lift…. I can’t believe someone told you that …. jeeeeezzzzzzz …. :confused: :angry:

  6. Mark Says:

    Dr Tygger is also not averse to the odd handshake from men. And the odd cuddle too. Maybe I should have tried to hug my teache when I met her first. Being a rural campus where most of the buildings are only one story, we have no elevators.

    Mwalimu Lydia, If I have understood you correctly, powerpoint is like pubic lice. I like that. :hehe:

  7. mungbean Says:

    :blush: :blush: :blush:
    Well, glad to hear that things aren’t quite as paranoid as I was told at the time! But how’s someone to know who’s come from the other side of the world? Better safe than sorry I thought… At the time there was talk in the press of certain hardline-Muslim territories within Malaysia increasing the power of the Shariah courts and stuff. Stoning and that kind of stuff.

    To be honest I was more concerned about offending someone through my ignorance of local customs than getting into trouble myself!

    And now, back to your schedule programmes…

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