Laugh Or Cry – 31st August 2022

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry
I don’t know, who, when, what or why
Spent my days in endless frustration
A victim of a worthless education
Now I’m at school on the other side
All the things I learned being applied
And frustrated kids look up with empty eyes
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

The people who get on in theis world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.

George Bernard Shaw

Today I’m grateful for:
Being able to share my abundant fruits with other people. The papaya is delicious but I can’t eat six of them!
The best thing about today was:
A quick ride along back roads and tracks to Bruno’s reminded me of times riding my motorbike in Dorset as a teenager. The green overhanging fauna down dirty muddy tracks and lanes. The smell of fresh oxygen mixed with distant smoky garden fires. I was transported, if only for a moment.

I took this picture because I found these two ‘good boys’ far from their home on my morning walk and they followed me all the way back.

Unambitious – 20th May 2022

Boris knew he was the one
But refused the offer many times
Only when it was insisted
Did he fall in with the signs
And George, he was the same
Saying he didn’t want to lead
He kept saying no, no, no
Until he finally agreed
It’s a thinking man’s game
So be most suspicious
It’s a clever way to play
To seem so unambitious

paraphrasing Robert Greene’s Daily Laws for 20th May

Education is an imperfect shield against custom and tradition. In some ways, you may judge us still to be a little backward.

Kukrit Pramoj

The Week That Was – 5th August 1979

Go Deeper – 17th February 2022

Stepping into traffic is a foolish test
There’s too many variables to control
A longer vision would be for the best
And more satisfying for the soul
Instant reward carries too much risk
All can be lost on a second spin
Life is a long time to exist
And goodness lies deep within

We receive three educations, one from our parents, one from our school masters and one from the world. The third contradicts all that the first two teach us.

Baron De Montesquieu

Sometimes a parrot talks – 7th March 2020

In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Arthur Deikman warned that many of the spiritual and utopian groups that had mushroomed out of the counter-culture were harmful cults…… He identified four signs of cult-like behaviour — dependence on a leader, compliance with the group, forbidding dissent, and devaluing outsiders. These four behaviours were particularly strong in cults, he suggested, but existed throughout society.

– Jules Evans – The soulful psychiatrist (email newsletter)

When I read this I immediately became aware that the school system that I am working within in this country is cult-like. These are government schools where I work, so it makes some sense. Governments operate utilising these four behaviours too.

In this system, preferences are given to the leader, superior or elder, whether they are deserving or not. If they are found lacking machinations begin to move that leader along, often with a handshake to comfort the stab in the back.

Compliance within the group is essential. You must conform. Non-conformity will enable idle gossip, rumour and lies. This will dig deep into your soul until it becomes unbearable. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. (I am that nail, over and over. Yes, I am stupid but I hope to learn.) It is a culture clash that happens repeatedly as teachers come and go faster than they can be replaced. No one learns from this as each party shakes their fists as they walk away.

Dissent leads the same way. Any question is seen as dissent, any suggestion is dissent, opening your mouth can be taken as dissent. To make improvements trickster behaviour must be employed, backroom suggestions that may filter through as if the leaders had thought of it themselves.

And the old favourite – devaluing outsiders. In an environment of education, it seems like it should be essential for everyone to work together. However, here there is a palpable us and them. If you decide to follow the path of non-compliance and dissent you will be seen to have no value (‘you’re one of them, one of them’). The survival technique ensures devaluing yourself – it is too great a burden for many to take.

I am not filled with hope for education in this country. But I can hope that it is only my limited experience and that things are much better in private schools at least, but which unfortunately only the wealthy can afford.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #28

Music from Aburadako, Ween, The Fall, Ahleuchastistas, Steve Miller Band, Radio Palestine, Sajjanu, The Motions, The Letters, Abnorman Chaffy, The Ramones, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Girls Against Boys, Marmalade Butcher, Guzzlemug, Slight Seconds, Cinematics, Strange Changes.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to watch our trees sprout new growth. To see the birds fly down from the branches and pick up yummy worms.

Though he was very small, he did what he was told – 3rd January 2020

Jimmy talked to me today and told me he had complaints from parents about me hugging the kids. I got a little defensive, unfortunately, as to me, it’s not a big deal. But I need to understand how the kids might feel if they are influenced by this culture and their parent’s understanding.

(Later) Fuck me, these kids drive me crazy. Fucking annoying obnoxious little brats.

What am I doing here? I feel like I’m wasting my time trying to teach them anything. Fuck – it was a bad day.

I felt a little better after looking at what I have prepared for them next week. I don’t know if things will go well enough but at least it has a little more structure than today. I need to try and concentrate on the ones who want to learn and ignore all the others.

I wish I could explain to the parents that their children (the ones who want to learn) are constantly held back by the rest of the class. I don’t know how much they would care. It’s a pointless thought anyway because it will never happen. So – I have to keep myself happy somehow and fuck everything else.

It’s not really contenting so I hope Amy and I can work out a way to get out of this position by developing our own classes – something that is somewhat fraught with danger due to work conditions.

Gratitude Journal

What a sunrise this morning. I am so happy and grateful to be able to view this every morning.

Yield to the right of way, stopping at a four-way sign, someone else’s rules, not mine – 18th December 2019

I’ve started talking to my phone. I thought it might be a good way to get ideas out more quickly. It’s quite difficult though. The action of talking seems to interrupt my thought processes and I feel like I’m performing thinking and trying to keep things linear. Of course, as soon as I put the phone away I had two thoughts that I believed I could use for writing and now have forgotten. Well, luckily one just popped back into my head but it’s likely I’ll forget it again by the time I finish this paragraph.

I’m sure I can make use of the speech-to-text on the phone – it just needs practice and more habitual use. I probably need to just push out the thought for fleshing out later rather than trying to run with it at the time. It’s an interesting exercise though it feels weird having a one-way conversation into the phone. I see quite a lot of other people sending audio messages but I’ve never been comfortable enough to do that. Same with instructions for devices, like using Siri or Bixby etc. It makes sense to make use of that functionality but feels dumb talking to your TV or whatever.

Here’s the stream-of-consciousness spew I came up with:

Last night I had a dream and I was in the school and was complaining with a tie teacher about the activity we had to do actually we just stand around doing nothing no one told us what to do this is quite common having quite a lot in my classes in my schools and I knew that I was going to have to do something similar today and now here I am standing here but nothing to do just babysitting children despite this so nicely I’m having a lot of fun at least it’s something different not sitting in the classroom I actually I was looking forward to sitting in the classroom and reading and stuff but now we’re outside and kids just pretty much playing some games actually quite fun but sunny 11 could I go in till 4 so he nice
Sara Bareilles camp Camp I would just basically in the area looks like a note template or something behind the school in the fields with lots of trees randleman is nice and shady and cool kids are scared to go to the toilets because they think of this ghosts around very difficult I’m feeling great 5-10 year olds stool I guess you believe in ghosts maybe anyway it’s a really nice walk at the back of the school what do you call a housing estate the back and then can you record any more Minnesota twins in the first time I’ve been talkin into the funds I trying to record my thoughts but the actual process of speaking seems to be interrupting the source and feel like I’m trying to write a narrative rather than just letting thoughts come freely you not go all over the placeas I’m walking back to the sky suddenly going quite white hiding the the trees in the mountains in the distance and I can rice fields here smouldering away I’ve been burned off cat simulator with to sleep the sky is full of on the way down to the ground I can smell it now the smell reminds me of when I was a kid in it’s stopped little grass flies hedges no edges of them and banquets and places like that one time one got out of control and we had to run away we could see the fire which city smoke from the fire when we got home it seems like it was a long way away but you know it wasn’t so the relative sizes of different when you were a kid conrado Munoz nowholy smoke is pretty good actually I think I’m going to get my 10,000 steps done today that I’m think I’m going to drive back afterwards little bit hot after working in the Sun as I shake where I am this program is funny the conversion from speech to text isn’t quite as fantastic cuz I’m the Mack this is just on the phone Android phone remember to watch out for snakes where I amit’s very very quiet where I am at the moment I can see houses and buildings and stuff but I know it’s just a few crickets as birds fluttering around in the grass lawn grasses nice to know that this is he just being us like houses along the main road and then behind the house it’s just nothing

I think I could make sense of most of this but there’s only really two thoughts contained within.

I was trying to describe that, as a 6 or 7-year-old, myself and the other kids on my street (for some reason I rarely hung around with kids on the next street) went off to the railway embankment and walked up to the top of the hill where there was a park. At the edge of the hill and park we set light to the grass for some childish fun. It quickly got out of control and we all ran like hell back home. From our street we could still see the smoke billowing into the sky even though it was what seemed like far away. It probably wasn’t that far but distance is relative when you’re still only three foot tall. When we heard the sirens we all ran inside.

And the smell of the rice field burning today reminded me of that day. Burning the fields is normal here unfortunately. Chiang Rai had the worst air quality in the world for a few days earlier this year. A brief smell of smoke such as I had today makes for a nostalgic romantic memory but when you are choking on the smoky sky it’s not so much fun. This year it lasted for about two months and it was awful.

The other thought I was trying to articulate was that I had an anticipatory dream last night. It’s not a very surprising dream and was really just a prediction. I think it did help me in some ways though.

I was dreaming that I was at school and it wasn’t the normal teaching day as there was some event that we had to help the kids with. I was standing around with the other teachers and we were all complaining that no one had told us exactly what we were supposed to be doing. I mentioned that one of the Thai teachers told me that we just need to make sure the kids don’t hurt themselves and I had laughed ‘oh we just need to babysit them then?’ Babysitting was a common phrase used by one of my old Thai colleagues and as ‘teachers’ it was a little frustrating, especially when we might only find out about these events the day before they happen.

So, last night I had made a note to be mentally prepared for a disorganised day today. It was Scout Day. I knew that we had to walk somewhere outside school and this morning found out that we would leave at around 9am. That happened and us obedient babysitters wandered along behind them without any clue what was in store for us. Sure enough when we got to where we were supposed to be no one told us anything else and we just sat around, wandered around, sometimes worried that we should be doing something. Exactly as my dream, mentally prepared, I took the opportunity to have as much fun as possible with the kids which is really preferable to sitting around complaining about the situation. I ended up having a great time. The kids seemed to be enjoying what was pretty much a day off school for them too. I’m not sure if they learned anything today but some days when I’m teaching I feel the same too!

Something I learned today
Black and white is always gray
Looking through the windowpane
I’m not inside your brain

In an effort to try and get the kids to at least learn or remember something, I would steal their hats and demand that they use English to ask for it back. They all eventually got their hats back – took a while for some of them.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I have the motivation and determination to get things done. This morning I weighed myself and the app on my phone tells me that I now have a normal BMI and no longer overweight. I’m proud of myself but the task is not over. I still need to lose a few more kilos and get more exercise. I know my weight will go up and down but I can keep heading in the right direction.