Carl Gibson – Our Man in Palestine

Carl Gibson with one of his students

My name is Carl Gibson, I’ve worked for Oxford Science Studies for nearly three years, teaching Classics and German (I’ve also been known to warden, and man the office). Since early September I’ve been trying my hand at teaching in a completely different environment: the city of Nablus, in the West Bank.

I volunteer for an NGO, called Teach for Palestine, which provides English-language classes to the most vulnerable kids in the Old City of Nablus, the surrounding rural villages, and in several refugee camps around the city. I recently completed a Master’s degree in International Relations, specializing in Palestinian politics, so the choice of the West Bank came naturally. I have also always loved teaching languages, having cut my teaching teeth at OXSS, so the job seemed perfect. Having firmly found my feet, I will be teaching here in Palestine until at least May.

I co-ordinate and teach at our High School Boys’ site, which is probably our most demanding program. Teaching here can certainly be tough: there are few of the ‘luxuries’ such as wipe-boards, computers, windows with glass in them etc that we take for granted in the UK. Even obtaining stationary and reading material proves tricky in this part of the world.

What’s more, most of my students are both very poor, and very ill-disciplined (a product of the Palestinian state education sector, which is very fond of huge classes and corporal punishment). This makes attendance, and classroom management very tricky at times. So far I’ve had students throw rocks at me, punch me, and even ride a horse into my classroom…

Yet, despite the many and varied obstacles  – which I will be reporting over the coming months – I love teaching my classes. The students I work with are wonderful, and their eagerness to learn English is inspiring. My limits, both as a teacher and as a person, are tested and pushed on a daily basis, and the hard work is already bringing tangible results. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with developments…

The following link will take you to Carl's blog: TFP High School Boys Site FYI Carl's pen name is Irish man Carl.

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