ELT News, April 2011

This month ‘the Student’s Eye – your choice for the future’ focuses on an academic gem at one of Scotland’s oldest centres of learning.

Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is one of the UK's most internationally distinguished universities. With a student population of around 16,000 drawn from 120 different countries, including Greece, there are study options to suit all academic interests, coupled with social and leisure activities that will contribute to your overall well-being, enjoyment and personal growth.

Those with a leaning towards Sociology will be delighted at the innovative and puckish antics performed by this illustrious faculty in their Post Millennium Sociology course - all carefully designed to keep students on their toes and well focussed by mixing the best of 19th century academic practise coupled with cutting edge pioneering trends of the 21st. To illustrate; last year, when a 2nd year student dared complain about writing midwinter exams in unheated conditions (designed to speed up the thought processes) and, egotistically – but mistakenly -, feeling supported by a senior professor’s statement, in an email to Registry, that “the hall was indeed unheated;” this so upset the tranquil reverie of paid sabbaticals and toasting crumpets on steaming Victorian radiators that he was, rightly, expertly and smartly wrapped over the knuckles in true Mr. Bumble-like fashion and, then, academically censured by the Departmental Coalman for daring to open his mouth and criticize the smooth running of the institution. “I just let my words run away with me, idiot,” archly muttered the prof, quite rightfully affronted he should be required to take responsibility for his earlier supportive email, before returning to pleasant daydreams of rolling in gold from current research emoluments.

Revenge, though, came swift and sweet for the department. When the same student this year applied to re-sit an introductory course failed the previous year, the howls of glee emanating from the Dickensian characters huddled in front of their steaming crumpets fair rivalled the baying of mock satanic wolves coming from the University theatre. They carefully arranged for Registry to upload the student exam details of this year’s introductory course – identical in all aspects to the earlier one requested, barring the small and innocuous course number – and told him to study, report and write. This, the unfortunate fellow, not realizing the cunning ploy - as the course overtly appeared to be the same material - dutifully did.

But after the exam, when the department knew they finally had the miscreant by the short and curlies, they delivered the final blow. “We can’t mark it,” they shrieked in ecstasy, hopping round the room as energetically as banshees before a well appointed wake; “the script has the wrong index number. The candidate should have sat S1004 and he sat S1005 – he, he he, tra, la, la!” However, as with any institutional execution, they did put on mock Cheshire cat faces and write in compassionate language when communicating with the condemned!

In vain the poor student, who had spent six months studying, pleaded and pointed out he had been given instructions to report for S1005; that he had been given that paper to write in the exam and that no-one had advised him to ask for another. “Oh, we did call you,” whispered a grinning woman, with a near inaudible voice, “and we have witnesses to prove it, but you didn’t hear us, did you? You really should improve your departmental telepathy. Now, you will just have to re-apply and sit it again, won’t you?” Then she disappeared in green smoke with a howl of demonic laughter.

Registry, always good for a laugh, then further connived at his discomfiture by refusing to refund his exam application fee and the whole Sociology department grinned and ordered in even more oatmeal crumpets, lashing out on royal anchovy, in honour, to top the haggis paste and honey.

Yes, reading Post Millennium Sociology is academically sound, yet fun, at Aberdeen University; where you learn how to face and deal with some of the most enigmatic and controversial psyches, vagaries and behaviour found within the shell of humanity. Couple that choice with Psychology and the one department might well supply the grist to study in the other. Equally, you could enrol for Film Studies and possibly have the opportunity of making an animated cartoon feature of those dedicated Dickensian characters huddled in their plaid dressing gowns, giggling and energetically waving toasting forks as they greedily slap honey and haggis paste onto steaming crumpets and scheme up delightfully interesting new initiation rites for future students; all designed to prod the cerebral learning centre and foster the increased interest in Sociology that the course, which we unreservedly endorse, deserves.

Minimum entry requirements: these are slightly higher than usual, due to the course being constantly oversubscribed and are 4 ‘A’ levels (3 at A and 1 at B) or an IB points aggregate of 39+.

The Student’s Eye, Volume 3, Issue 32: 1/4/2011

Water and Planet Earth

All of us know about the increasing lack of fresh water on earth, and all of us know we should - in some way - do something about it; preferably from the comfort of our houses. Much has been written about WCs with 2 kinds of flush: light and heavy, and the benefits of using showers rather than taking baths. But not so much has been said about simple methods of saving and re-cycling the water we actually use and then discard. There are some universities – Oxford, for one – that have been recycling what is termed grey water (that used for washing) for many years, but generally the matter is not emphasised as much as it should be.

However, a simple method used in many forward looking households is to place a large, plastic household bowl in the bath and a smaller one in the hand-basin, to catch the water from the tap and prevent it from immediately draining away. After use, these bowls, filled with grime and soapy water, can then be used for flushing the loo or washing floors; thus saving several gallons of the precious liquid daily.

When taking a shower one merely stands in the large bowl, washes oneself, and lets the water trickle down the body and gather in the bowl. The smaller receptacle in the wash-basin also allows you to wash your face and soak your hands in the same way you would if simply using the basin with a plug inserted. However, due to the manoeuvrability of the small bowl, you now have the added benefit of being able to move and re-use that water easily; both lowering your utility bills and helping the planet at a cost of very little effort.

Think ahead – Set an example and think Green.

(Posting date 01 April 2011)

Andrew Leech (aleech@ath.forthnet.gr) is a former contributing editor of the Greek-American Review of New York. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, of a British father (Lt Colonel British Army) and Greek mother (Marika Calogeropoulou: ballerina, teacher & choreographer). Educated in Britain, he moved to Greece in 1971 while conducting research into the language learning strategies of young children. He returned to Britain in 1977 for postgraduate study. In 1981, he worked in Greece for the Cararigas Schools as Director of Studies before starting his own school in 1984. He also became Director of Studies and Deputy Headmaster of the prestigious St Lawrence College for an interim period. Developing a keen interest in journalism in 1990, Leech became first an internationally known educational correspondent for ELT News and, later, a diplomatic correspondent for Athens News, focusing on visiting dignitaries and heads of state. He is a longstanding member of the Society of Authors and is also a lecturer in Journalism and Communications at Deree College, Athens. For more information about Andrew Leech or to read more of his fine articles, see his brief biography at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/andrewleechbio.html or visit the archival section of HCS devoted to his works at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveleech.html .

HCS encourages readers to view other articles and releases in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html.

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