Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fashion and clothes at our school

These two collages have been created to chime in Schools Around the Globe fashion and clothes topic.
At our school students wear what they like – there are no uniforms. Our school is a technical school centre - it includes many technical secondary schools (computer science, mechanical engineering, electronics, metalwork...) and some college courses. There aren't many girls around, we mostly have boys' classes.

This group are mechatronics students:
This is their view of fashion and clothes; their reply to my questions: How important are fashion and clothes to you? and How would you describe a typical student at our school?
We generally don’t care much about fashion. We wear casual clothes, whatever we feel comfortable in. A typical TŠC student wears jeans or sports clothes, perhaps a hoody and a jacket - simple and practical clothes. Different students like different styles, like everywhere else – ranging from metal to emo or skaters' or metalhead looks. Clothes sometimes tell a lot about people who wear them – about the kind of music they listen to, how much money they spend on them, how much they care about their looks.

This group are informatics students:
And this is their reply to my questions above:
Some of us seem to care about fashion more than others, but the general view seems to be that it's more important that you feel good in whatever you put on and that there's not much point in spending a fortune on clothes. A typical student at our school wears jeans, a t-shirt or a pullover, a jacket, sports shoes or trainers – casual clothes, not necessarily latest fashion.
Students lego avatars have been created using The Mini-Mizer I was alerted to this site via Nik Peachy's blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What makes Slovenia unique?

Inspired by Ronaldo's wonderful What makes Brazil a UNIQUE country my class travelled in our minds a bit to the sandy beaches of the sunny Brazil. When we returned home, we created two responses. One with the informatics group and one with the mechatronics group.

As set out by Ronaldo, my students came up with a word or phrase explaining what makes Slovenia unique and 2 or 3 cc licensed photos in Flickr supporting it - they posted their answers in this Google form.

Here's a video created with the help of the informatics group:

And here's a video created with the help of the mechatronics group:

Nice, aren't they? Here's a wiki, where such Multicultural Uniquenesses are brought together by Carla Arena, who is responsible for the spreading of this bug. ;-)

Diversity, uniqueness, stereotypes

A few years ago, a German blogger came up with a world map that shows what traits different nationalities are especially known for. It's called "The Prejudice Map" and it is kind of a catalog of stereotypes and clichés.

Slovenia is not included, so I asked my students how they would describe us. They came up with a lot of interesting suggestions - nice ones (closely connected families, sport matters, nature too, don't like to stick out of the crowd...) and those darker ones (envy, inferiority complex, alcoholism, suicides...).
We then checked what Google says "Slovenians are known for". This is what came up:
- incredibly beautiful women,
- partying abilities,
- extreme athletes
- low confidence
- historical presence in Istria
- entertainment lovers
- excellent parties
- excellent speakers of several foreign languages
- horrible choice of gown in Miss World beauty contests

Sunday, October 4, 2009

English and English learning

I asked my new class what comes to their mind when they hear the word 'English'. This is what they said:

And this is what comes to their mind when they hear the word 'English learning'. (I like BetterThanMaths ;-))

We did this survey in paper form and in groups (it's anonymous, you are welcome to fill it in too). Some of the answers that brought a smile to my face are:

Q: What do you remember from your English classes best?
A: A view from the window.
(Great idea for next Clasrooms Across the Globe topic, isn't it? Literally sharing views from our classrooms ;-)).

Q: Is perfect English necessary for successful communication?
A: Good is good enough. Perfect is unnecessary.

Learning English is important - English is the language of international communication, the language of the Internet, the language of many films and songs we love. It's the first foreign language at our schools and it's good for us to be able to successfully communicate in it. That's more important than worrying too much about mistakes we make along the way. According to our little survey, we teachears here seem to be guilty of focussing rather a lot on grammar and mistakes learners make... But if our students find it difficult to see the forrest for the trees we are missing the point, aren't we?

My new students' advice to me and fellow English teachers?
- If possible, invite native speaker guests in class. (Kay, Bob, have you read this? :-))Make class activities meaningful. Allow students to use language to express themselves. Involve students in class discussions. Do fun group activities. Encourage student interaction. Make classes communicative.

Here's the advice Wordle:

Looking forward to another year's learning. :-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How do others see Slovenia?

Have I mentioned here a class in Argentina participating in the Walls Talking project decided to learn more about Slovenia?
They set up a website where they pool their finds and invited me to talk to them about our country - I'm really looking forward to this - we are meeting tonight on Skype. :-))

It was at their site that I came across this interesting article in Slovenia Times by Diana Evans (a Brit living in Maribor). The text is her observations of life in Slovenia - she has been living here now for almost 5 years. She says she likes our lifestyle:

The lifestyle. This is hard to explain, but let me tell you there is an advertisement running in UK newspapers saying that British people throw away a quarter of the food they buy. I just cannot imagine Slovenes doing that. People are more careful with their money, with what they buy and about what they throw away. People use the things they have and pass them on to others if they don’t need them any more. In our area, a twice a year collection of large unwanted items is enough for most people. People seem to care about the environment. There is little litter lying around and the country as a whole is clean and tidy. People look after their homes and gardens and take a pride in their own appearance. There are a lot less overweight people than in the UK due I believe to eating less processed food and also exercising more; less TV watching; more sport and other healthy activities. (I have lost weight since I moved here!).
There are many other interesting observations - for example she considers us kind and open and willing to help a foreigner. ... We thought a bit different about us here and here ;-).

Slovenia - Hungary border

Another non-Slovene explorer of our country living in Slovenia 6 months a year and beautifully writing about this in her blog is our dear Kay Raplenovich. Our current class unfortunately did not have the opportunity to meet her, but we were lucky to have had her with us on a number of occasions with previous groups. She's an American and lives part of the year in Šempeter, Slovenia and part of the year in Ohio, US.

Another very interesting site along these lines I bookmarked ages ago was also created by an American - nicknamed Pogoer. He used to live here and has posted very interesting observations and tips for foreigners interested in exploring the life in our neck of the woods.

Any other non-Slovenes out there willing to share your impressions of Slovenia? We'd love to hear from you. :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Graffiti - what is right and what is wrong?

Some graffiti look good and some don't, some are viewed upon with approval and some not... What is acceptable and what is not? What is funny and what is not? What is art and what an offense? Michael's photo here says it clearly... but are things really as simple as that?
I gathered below some interesting comments by my class.
Serious Crime
  • Added value, appropriate place.
    Nice graffiti look nice or say something nice or something somehow of value most of us seemed to agree. Scribbles which are only there to deface the buildings or hurt somebody's feelings are vandalism.
  • Respect other people's property.
    Edi and many others pointed out the importance of being respective of other people's property. 'It's something that has to do with age. Young people don't work and don't earn money and don't understand so well the concept of leaving things which are not theirs alone.' (I haven't thought of this before but it's true, isn't it? Most of the graffiti we see on the walls of our town looks seems to have been produced by teens.) 'Graffiti art is cool We should have designated places in towns and cities where people are allowed to do it, it shouldn't be done just anywhere.'
  • Artistic value is not a black and white concept. 'People tend to generalize things: the beautiful is art and the ugly is vandalism or obscene. But in real life things are not that simple. A beautiful graffiti on a freshly painted wall is art for most viewers, but not for the owner. A "nonsense" sculpture in our town with numerous heads sticking out of one body - is art - even though most people don't understand it and consider it an eyesore - but it's been commissioned from a professional artist so it's officially art' (Edi)
  • Urban dialogue. 'there are many graffiti makers who simply rebel against the system or joke around - their graffiti are urban responses reflecting reality of life in the area' (Tomaž)
    I kind of agree here, because I find it interesting to observe the walls in our town and study what they say about us.

    For example. Our town is a mix of all sorts of nationalities from ex Yugoslavia - in addition to Slovenes there are also many people with roots from other former Republics. Awhile ago I was on my way to Qlandia, our local mall, and I noticed a disturbing and pathetic Slovene nationalistic graffiti saying 'srbe na vrbe' (suggesting the Serbs should be hung on willow trees - it rhymes in Slovene). A humorous Serbian rhyme was added next to it in response: 'nema vrba koliko ima srba' (meaning there aren't as many willows here as there are Serbian people - not too far fetched considering how small the territory of our country is ;-)). I hate the nationalistic stuff on our walls, but this one brought a smile on my face. It is an example of this sort of urban dialogues on the walls...

    A much nicer example of this sort recently added to the wallstalking site is this:
    Kje je pa univerza - Rožna Dolina 5
    The authorities in our town (Nova Gorica) have put these signs boasting that our town is a university town along all major roads leading to Nova Gorica. The problem is they seemed to have forgotten about their old promise to also provide appropriate location for building the university campus - so an action called 'University Town' ' was organized in which activists furnished all these signs with the question ' Where is this university?
Any other thoughts on this?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More glimpses of Slovenia

Just thought I'd post this Flickr slideshow here too because it fits in nicely with the previous post - it's glimpses of my home town Nova Gorica and other parts of Slovenia (from our family trips, mostly by my husband, whose fingers are usually glued to the camera wherever we go ;-)).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Slovenia's talking walls

Ok, we wrote about Argentina here, it's time to also post our ramblings concerning Slovenia and Slovenian walls. This is what we came up in class awhile ago:
Slovenia is a small but beautiful country criss crossed by many scenic roads. The landscape is very diverse - it only takes you a couple of hours to travel from the Adriatic coast all the way to the high peaks of the Alps (mountain range stretching across the borders in also to the neighbouring Italy, Austria and Switzerland) - we call our side of the Alps the sunny side of the Alps.
Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia
Another natural beauty is our Kras area with one of the biggest underground Karst cave system. Vojko said he heard somebody say if you ironed Slo it would be bigger than Europe. Nicely put, isn't it? :-)
Postojna cave - Slovenia
Landscape diversity reflects also in many different Slovene dialects, some are quite challenging to understand also for Slovenes not coming from the same region. We think we are reserved people, need to get to know somebody a bit before we get friendly with them.
I think that some aspects of this are nicely shown on the graffiti on this train - with rainbow stretching above the beautiful green hilly landscape and fences delimiting people's property below. People here say 'čisti računi dobri prijatelji' - meaning people have to have their affairs in order (money, property...) if they want to be good friends - what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.
rainbow land
Our country is on the territory where a lot of blood was shed during the WW1 and WW2. Older generations still tell stories of those times. Times and politics have changed now though, and some of the people who used to be national heroes are not everybody's heroes anymore. I posted this photo and the story to our Wallstalking site - not quite a graffiti on the wall, but the actions associated with it bear many resemblances to what we typically associate with graffiti art.
Naš Tito
As far as sports is concerned, many like football here too though we think it cannot be considered national sport, like in Argentina. The conditions for practicing it are rather poor, skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports seem to be more popular. Skiing has a long tradition here. It's interesting though that while football related graffiti are quite frequent on our walls, I can't remember seeing a single skiing one.
Our typical foods are meaty ones like pršut and kranjska klobasa, dishes like jota, žlikrofi and mlinci, and sweets like potica, štruklji and gibanica - the assortment of foods differs a bit according to regions, but these are usually listed as typical Slovene foods. Some of the Slovene regions are wine-producing areas. Wine and wine drinking has long been part of our culture, something our walls testify about too.
The wine country

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The history of scouting goes back to the turn of the 20th century, when the first seeds of scouting were sown. On a farm in Connecticut, a naturalist and author named Ernest Thompson Seton had a problem with a group of boys who kept stealing fruits from his garden. He decided to organize those boys in a group. At first, he just told them Indians stories. A few weeks later, he took them out of the village in the nature where they spent a few days living in a teepee – an Indian tent. He called them the Woodcraft Indians. All that happened in 1902.

At about the same time, in 1907, a British Army officer, Robert Baden-Powell gathered about 20 boys and took them to Brownsea Island in a sheltered bay off England's southern coast. They set up a makeshift camp that would be their home for the next 12 days.
His idea of scouting was born while he was stationed in India. He discovered that his men lacked basic first aid knowledge and also that of the elementary means of survival in the outdoors. Baden-Powell realized he needed to teach his men many frontier skills. After returning from the Boer War, Baden-Powell was amazed to find that his little handbook called Aids to Scouting had caught the interest of English boys. They were using it to play the game of scouting.

The boys had a great time at the scout camp. They divided into patrols and played games, went on hikes, and learned stalking and pioneering. They learned to cook outdoors without utensils. Scouting began on that island and would sweep the globe in a few years.

In many ways, the two organizations were similar, but they were not connected. The boys who belonged to Woodcraft Indians had never heard of Baden-Powell or of Boy Scouts, and yet both groups were destined to become Boy Scouts one day soon. The biggest difference between those two organizations was a discipline. The Woodcraft organization was more about freedom to foster and emphasize the symbiosis with nature, Scouts, on the other side, were firmly organized and had well defined methods.

Next year, Baden-Powell published his book Scouting for Boys and Scouting continued to grow. That same year, more than 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally held at the Crystal Palace; a mere two years later, membership in Boy Scouts had tripled.

In these days there are more than 28 million Scouts, youth and adults, boys and girls, in 160 countries.

What about Slovenia.

In Slovenia the first scout groups emerged in Celje, Ljubljana and Maribor. In 1925 an active group of scouts published the idea of establishing Woodcraft organization. The Woodcraft organization was established in Ljubljana, but in Maribor it was the most active center at that time. There are no significant differences in the working methods of the Slovene Woodcraft and scout organizations. Both organizations have been expanding throughout Slovenia. There has been considerable expansion of members and local organizations. Political views of members of Woodcraft or Scouting organizations are not important. For the scouts the only condition for consideration is the Scout law and oath.

The name tabornik (i.e. Scout) was first mentioned in 1924 in the National Journal. It referred to members of both movements. The adoption of this term subsequently led also to the new name of this organization in 1925 the “Združenje slovenskih tabornikov”.

After World War II, on the 22 April 1951, the former scouts and woodcrafts merged in a joint organization called “Združenje tabornikov Slovenije”. Later it was renamed in Scout association of Slovenia (Zveza tabornikov Slovenije- ZTS).

Because of numerous engaging and attractive activities for young people, membership has grown rapidly from the initial 783 to over 10,000 members today. The movement has expanded, and organizations have emerged also in other republics of the former Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav scout organization was an umbrella organization linking together the branches from the different republics, including the Slovene ZTS. Savez izvidžača Jugoslavije (Scout association of Yugoslavia) was formed in 1951 on the initiative of ZTS. It never became a member of the World Organization of Scout movement because of the political situation in the previous system.
In time between 1951 and 1958 Scouts organization were founded in all republic of former Yugoslavia. After colaps of country, scout groups and association doesn’t stop to work, and now all Scout association from republic of former Yugoslavia are fully member of WOSM.

Compared to other Scouts associations in former Yugoslavia, ZTS has kept its identity, which is reflected in the Slovenian scouts' coat-of-arms, their distinctive code of behavior, units and description tags, and other peculiarities, which have varied in other scout organizations from the other republics of former Yugoslavia.

Custom manners and habits of both organizations from before of WW II are firmly rooted in ZTS. In 1989 the organization began the process of going back to the original ideas and began introducing higher common standards of organization and operation of local scout units. All these efforts payed off in 1994 when our national Scout organization ZTS became a full member of the World Scout movement - WOSM. This also meant that ZTS become a national scout organization.

Another related organization in Slovenia active since 1990 is called Slovenian Catholic Association of Girl and Boy Scouts (Združenje slovenskih katoliških skavtinj in skavtov - ZSKSS). The purpose and the Scout methods are the same as in the case of ZTS, but the forms of action and activities are slightly different. In 1996 the ZSKSS association joined the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which brings together girls Scout organizations around the world. To pursue common interests and promote diversity, the organization decided to adopt this special arrangement.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Well, I did a presentation about hackers for my English class and seems that my class mates liked it so Saša invited me to post few lines about the topic. So, fasten the seatbelts and rock'n'roll :)

The first queston that comes in mind when speaking about hackers is: who is a hacker? Usually we think about hackers like some anti-social individuals breaking into computer systems searching for classified data. This is the image of hackers that mass-media created, because people dig stories about super-inteligent teenagers that rule the cyberspace. Nevertheless, the truth is much simpler.
Hackers are just individuals who like to explore computer systems and networks. Period. Just ordinary guys - not some gods or voodoo magicians. Even the most famous hacker (well, actually he was black hat hacker, but we'll come to that part) - Kevin Mitnick - admited that most of his targets were "low-hanging fruit". In his own words he often did it like this: telnet to server, username: guest, password: guest ... and he was in. Many of his famous break-ins were just reflection of poor security policy. And even today is not much different.

The hackers scene is deeply related with UNIX operating system, C programing language and ARPAnet. In fact, people involved in those projects are today known as pioneeer hackers. In those early years phreakers were more common than hackers mainly because at that time there were not many computer networks while phone systems were pretty evolved. Phreaker is a person who likes to explore telephone systems, basically a phone hacker.

Like every sub-culture hackers also have their unwritten laws and ethic codex. Some well know hacker's ethic rules are this:

  • all information should be free
  • access to computers should be unlimited and total
  • destroying things is easy, the hardest part is to build them
But the cornerstone of hackers culture is considered to be a short essay called "The manifest". This essay was written by a hacker named "The Mentor" shortly after his arrest in 1986. It's worth reading. "The Manifest" gives the insight view of hackers philosophy. The manifest states that hackers choose to hack because hacking is the way to learn, kind of intellectual challenge, but also because, they feel bored and frustrated about limitations of modern society.

That was once upon a time. Today we have like many flavors of hackers. Most of them fits into script kiddie category. Script kiddies are mainly teenagers that have a minimal knowledge of computers and networks but they are using publicly available hacker's tools and programs to attack the systems.
White hats (or ethical hackers) are good guys. If they found a vulnerability they will report it to developer.
Black hats (or crackers) are bad guys. If they found a vulnerability they will exploit it, sell it or publicly disclose it.
Grey hats are a hybrid between black and white hats. Sometimes they will act legal while sometime not.
Corporate hackers are hackers who are working for large corporations, searching for security holes in corporate environment and making big bucks :) Did you know that Microsoft also hires hackers? BTW, this guys are often called "Security professionals" because the term hacker is not appropriate for serious business.
If you are wondering if they are really wearing those hats? No, they don't. This is just fictional and taken from old spagetti-western movies where the bad guys are wearing black hats while the good guys are wearing white hats. And what is the color of your hat? :)

The most famous hacker is Kevin Mitnick, of course. He was black hat. He penetrated many corporate networks - supposedly searching for source code. He was 5 years on the run, then arrested by FBI (he was actually traced by a white hat hacker), spent 5 years in prison and when he got out he was not allowed to use computers or cell phones for three more years. Today he works as corporate hacker. He are some other hackers worth to mention (all white hats this time): Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman and Bill Gates.

That is. If you read it until here then you're probably interested in hackers. You may be even asking yourself: "Am I also a hacker?". Luckily for you, there is a universal solution to answer that question. If you can understand this:

ph33r u5 n0w 'c0z w3 pwn u L1k3 7h47 w17h ju57 p1ng, 7r4c3r7 4nd n375747

than you're almost certainly a script kiddie. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Argentina's talking walls

During our previous class we brainstormed what we know about Argentina for some 5 or 10 minutes and came up with the following:

Argentina's capital is Buenos Aires. The country is located in the South America, Spanish language is spoken there. People do tango and are fond of fireworks. Football is Argentinian national sport, one of the world's most famous football legends - Maradona comes from there.

Argentinian people eat huge steaks, lots of cattle is bred for meat. Argentinian beef is exported all over the world and served in many restaurants even in our part of the world. Argentina is also one of the world's biggest honey producers (also in Slovenia beekeeping is a firmly rooted tradition).

It is not uncommon for a Slovene to have relatives in Argentina or to know somebody who has - many Slovenes emigrated to Argentina before and soon after WW2. Even one of our ex prime ministers, Andrej Bajuk, is an Argentinian Slovene (has retired recently).

Evita Peron was a very popular Argentinian First Lady - the queen of people's hearts. Argentina hosted this year's rally and used to host F1 races too in Buenos Aires. There is a beautiful national park called Patagonia.

We then had a look at graffiti uploaded to the Wallstalking.org website and Flickr group:

the graffiti there are humorous, vivacious and colorful, - Caminito tango dancers, Plaza de Mayo street bustle, young Valu enjoying blissful afterlife, 'Hello Kitty' turned into 'Hello Kirchner', a complaint about not too good-looking women from somebody's neighbourhood,... Some graffiti there are also more serious, e.g. reminding people of a dark period from their past, protesting against capitalism,..

People seem to be proud of their culture, roots and heroes. (Hm, can we say the same for us, Slovenes?)

caminito, originally uploaded by jenverschoor.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Some friends and I are starting a graffiti project called Listen to the Walls Talking.
On my way to school some two or three weeks ago I noticed a pile of old desks next to the trash can. I stopped and had a look - they were covered in scribbles, verses, sketches... some already disassembled and ready for their final destination. Those scribbles and carvings all over them made me think of the countless hours students had spent sitting there, being productive (one way or another ;-)). I thought how these marks are in a way reflection of somebody's feelings caught in time. Bored, in love, happy, mad, creative, you name it. So when I later that day entered the classroom and registered the blank white student desks, those struck me as sterile, lifeless, cold... There were no stories there, no emotions - the desks were nice and clean. So I started looking around, at walls, chairs, schoolbags... and I thought - wouldn't it be nice to collect and share scribbles meaningful to us, see why we find them meaningful, what do they tell us? What does this tell us about us?
I talked about this to some of my friends and ended up in a fun collaborative project - people from different parts of the world started sharing photos of the graffiti they like or find meaningful. It's fun already and it has only just begun. Check it out and join us! Hope to see you there.
lad te mam

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new name

Needed to rename this place… I didn’t quite feel at home here. So goodbye EFL blog and hello Cybermill. Why Cybermill? Sounds like something practical, hands on... Also I kind of like to name my cyberspots so that they mean something to me. This is now this blog's 3rd name (never took the time to think properly of a name, which is a real shame). When I opened it I titled it Roštilj but later, when the 'Roštilj' student generation finished class, I renamed it to EFL Blog... never liked that name, sounded kind of empty… Cybermill at least makes it consistent with some of my cyber spots. Not sure this will encourage me to blog more regularly, but at least I will feel more at home when I do. So... Cybermill from now on - in case anyone is still around this place and wondering what's happened.