The Cost

In 2012, two huge new facilities opened in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Last week, I visited both of them.

In the Abdoun district of Amman sits the Taj Lifestyle Centre, “the ultimate destination for shopping, dining and entertainment in Jordan,” a palace of globalized consumerism. Lorena and I went there last Friday. All the big international names are there: TGI Friday’s, Victoria’s Secret, Hugo Boss. And I kid you not, we had coffee at Starbuck’s and quarter-pounders at McDonald’s, I bought a new sweater from H&M, and we went to the cinema to watch the new Hunger Games movie; I snacked on the nachos and cheese, Lorena snaffled the popcorn. For real.

70 kilometres north, and occupying a much larger area of 3.3 km², is the other new face on the Jordanian map, opened at around the same time: Zaatari refugee camp. We went there on Thursday.

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I’ve spent the whole week wanting to name-drop Westgate mall, and I don’t know why. I’ve wanted to let people know that my jeans, my hoodie, my three functioning pairs of trainers, the ‘bunny suicides’ postcards on my classroom wall, all come from Westgate mall. I’ve wanted to point to the school trips I’ve taken there, the films I’ve watched upstairs in the cinema, the sushi I’ve enjoyed. Why?

If I’d been in Nairobi last Saturday, that’s where I would have been. And when I’ve been there, I’ve noticed this: it’s full of teenage school kids, just passing the time. I don’t know what my need to name-drop is all about, I’m no professional. But I’ll say this much: fuck you, al-Shabaab. Fuck you.

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A Vision of Hell

Delta-Laguardia Terminal DYesterday, a genuine Vision of Hell. Orwellian, Wall-Ean, it was a glimpse of what might happen if we let it, what the future could look like if idiocy wins.

LaGuardia airport, Terminal D.

Every chair and table in Delta’s entire terminal – whether in a bar, in a restaurant or at a departure gate – is accompanied by an iPad. These screens connect to airport info, games, food menus and shopping. Hundreds of people stare alone at screens, occasionally touching them, and having food delivered to wherever they’re sitting.

Stare, consume, stare. It’s horrifying.

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Thinking and Acting

Yesterday in New York, we met a friend for lunch. She’s a brilliant actress, and at one point we got to discussing creativity, emotion, control and socialization (we’re crazy like that!). I conjectured that people operate on a scale. At one end are people who are completely in control and socialized, and at the other, those who are raw and wide open. We decided that, to be creative and free, it was necessary to be at the raw end of the scale, with an ability to act normal, and that this was infinitely preferable to being at the controlled end and trying to be emotional. We also drank. It was fun, honestly. Continue reading

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Checks and Balance

We depart on time, arrive on time, cross from Stansted to Gatwick and everything’s just fine. Lorena’s travelling on a new passport from her new country, Chile, which raises an eyebrow and a question or two at immigration but nothing more, because no-one’s scared of Chile and Chile behave themselves, and so we’re on our merry way to the Americas.

We get there way earlier than expected. You see we had to change planes in Dublin; and Ireland, it transpires, has joined the union as the 51st state. Continue reading

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A Dilemma

There’s a kids book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, in which all of society takes a pill, every day. It takes away all of their emotions, because it’s ‘safer’ not to have them. In the novel the protagonist, Jonas, realizes what he’s missing, and stops taking the pills, and things happen. If you want to know what happens, you’ll have to read the book.

I stopped taking the pills two months ago. Now, things are happening for me, and I’m not sure what I should do next. And though the answer should be obvious, as it has been before, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that, this time. Continue reading

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What Curriculum Studies can tell us about the IB Diploma Programme

Though the field of curriculum studies is relatively young, curriculum is an ancient concept (Egan, 2003 in Corrigan & Ng-A-Fook, 2012). The word itself comes from the Latin currere, which means to run (Goodson, 1995, p.25). Despite this historic root – or perhaps because of it – ‘curriculum’ has come to mean different things to different people, both inside and out of the academic field. Continue reading

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