Friday, 23 May 2014

The Hive Mind

The students I teach are truly wonderful. They are eager to learn, especially the girls who, imprisoned on campus have fewer distractions than the boys who have cars, footy (playing and watching) Chinese and Filipina women and illegal boozing and the odd spliff or derivative therein. Well, that's if you go with er...totally ....unfounded rumour and the lusting around the sex workers, for that is who they are, at the local 5* hotel bar.

Like young people in most places they have inquiring minds, a lust for learning and see their time here as one in which to develop and lay cliched foundations for themselves for the future. Some will stay in Oman with their lovely families (all families are lovely for that is the unarguable national consensus) some will go on all expenses paid courses in the UK or Australia. Yet, independence of thought is not always clearly in evidence as it isn't always in England. There is the perpetual fear of losing face of not singing from the same traditional conservative sheet. On their own the boys will be more open in front of their sisters the party line is followed which goes pretty much like this.

1. The Family is the most sacred and wonderful thing there can possibly be.
2. Allah is the dog's bollocks
3. Islam rocks
4. The Sultan is most munificent.

As an outsider I am in no position to engage in debate too much with any of the above apart from nos 1 to 4 but as a good and culturally sensitive migrant worker I would hardly dare deign to be so rude not least as confrontation and argument is least in front of the uber respected's lovely to have that instant respect just for being part of what is called one of the divine professions by my Indian colleagues.

Hive Mind is an interesting and sometimes annoying thing. The individual's opinion  is subsumed into that of the class. It is not as bad as it used to be now that I can judge when a subject may have raised a sceptical eye-brow. There will be murmurings in Arabic before the Head Man in the class or Woman expresses the group opinion. Disagreement, in front of me at least, is never openly expressed.Such a situation in which harmony of the group is more important than the view of the individual is interesting and perhaps does have something to be said for it. It's all we rather than I - imagine that in an English classroom.