Thank Allah it's Thursday

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
SUNDAY There are ups and downs to teaching among the shifting sands of Qatar, a tiny but hugely rich Gulf state. Today is a definite up. A colleague and I take our Year 10 boys' economics and business studies classes to visit Qatar's telecommunication company. We learn from the chairman that the company is experiencing unprecedented growth - perhaps that's why they give 15 of us an iPod nano each. Mohammad and Hasheam lead exuberant renditions of "The Wheels on the Bus" during the return to school.

MONDAY Woken at 4am again by the bloody rooster. School starts at 7am; boys and girls are taught in separate classes. Teach seven out of the eight 45-minute periods in the day, then head home for a bite to eat before returning for a course information evening. There is a reasonable turnout for the international GCSE presentation, but staff well outnumber the seven students and one parent who turn up for the international baccalaureate session.

TUESDAY My lunchtime duty is on the field, where the boys race around playing football - 25 plus on each side. It's a moderate 38 degrees celsius. I'm grateful my duty is only for 15 minutes. The second coursework evening is almost a repeat of the first, except the IB history spiel proves too much for five students who abruptly depart when it finishes, leaving three people listening to the remaining speakers.

WEDNESDAY It's time to fill the petrol tank again, at 60 dirhams (9 pence) a litre - I kid you not. The downside to this is that to benefit, it's necessary to drive on the roads of the capital, Doha, where testosterone-fuelled men (and women) ignore all rules and drive their SUVs like maniacs with apparently murderous intent. They compete with the drivers of 1950s American school buses to strike terror into the hearts of innocent road users like me.

THURSDAY My key stage 3 humanities lesson is a success. Footage of a Nazi propaganda film prompts rich discussion. It will be interesting when we deal with the Holocaust; there are students from every middle eastern country here, except, of course, Israel. At weekends, the boys love camping in the desert, Bedouin-style. Another serious weekend activity is shopping in the palatial malls. Given our contributions to this week's evening events, the head agrees to postpone the weekly after-school academic committee meeting of HoDs. A definite up!

Mike Burns is head of humanities at Al Jazeera Academy, an international school in Doha, Qatar. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday or email We pay for every article we publish

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