Category Archives: teaching

My passion for photography…Ā 

Designing my foundation web site has been a real joy as I had to revisit my photography and sift through the the thousands of images I have from all my trips to Nepal over the last 30 years ! I wanted to use all of my own images in the foundation site as it’s something which is very personal and special to me.


Where are they now ? Photo taken 1986

When I first went to Nepal in 1986 after completing my schooling at UWCSEA I not only fell in love with Nepal I also fell in love with photography.  This was in pre digital days when every shot mattered as you didn’t know until you had the film and slides developed if they had actually worked and captured that I had wanted to.  You had to both think about every shot and yet also try to capture the special moments.  The photo which I have used on my foundation site above is one of my favourites as it captures the essence of young people in Nepal. 

The one below is also one of my favourites from when I lived in Sikles in 1992. I love it because it reminds me of the many nights I have spent in the house of Bir Kumari and grandma and was one of the many places I felt so at home,I also I love it because it was taken before digital cameras and I can still remember how happy I was when it was printed and I found out I had captured the light of the fire and skill that is needed to make shell roti. 

 I miss spending time with Bir Kumari and Grandma – always in my thoughts šŸ™šŸ¼

The phrase every image tells a thousand words can sometimes be true but sometimes an explanation is also needed.  The photo below was taken in 1992 when I lived in Sikles to remind me of the importance of making teaching fun and interactive.  I had been trying to teach the children in class 8 the difference between “the house is here and the cow is there” but from the image in the book it was not clear even to me which was here and which was there. So I took the children outside and as they held their books and pens we practiced “the pen is here” “the book is here”. Then I got them to throw their pens into the circle and taught them “my pen is not here my pen is there!”. The kids had a great time,learnt the difference between here and there. The teachers in the school just thought I was bonkers !

My book is here my pen is there 

I have so many old photos that I need to scan and upload into my ever expanding collection on Flickr so that I can share them with the people who are in them.  In the picture above the tall boy to the right with the white  t-shirt, purple scarf and red cap is Gehendra Gurung.  Gehendra is now a teacher in Sikles and one of the big changes that I’ve seen over the past 25 years is the rise of local teachers in schools.  This is so important as children’s first language in rural villages is often not Nepali so having teachers who speak your mother tongue is vital.  Today Gehendra teaches in the local primary school in Sikles and plays a central role in the friendship link between Grange Over Sands and Sikles schools.  He has visited the UK with other teachers from his school and visited schools in Grange, Liverpool, Wetherby and London.  He has then taken good practice and ideas back to Nepal to share in his school.  Also children here in the UK have learnt so much from his visits to their schools. This has been possible due to a British Council funded project called Connecting Classrooms an initiative supporting global learning and exchanges.  

Gehendra being welcomed in Grange over Sands primary school in 2014 

The last image I want to share is one I took of the puppets being used in the classrooms in Nepal.  The idea of developing a story book in both English and Nepali using handmade fair trade puppets made in Nepal was in part influenced by my experiences of teaching in Nepal and also by the work of the Pahar Trust and Global Action Nepal as well as Aidan Warlows better classroom better learning  book.  

I am currently raising funds so I can provide more resources and training in Nepal by challenging myself to walk the impact marathon this November! A challenge I am much more looking forward to though is to take photographs that show the impact and value of children friendly teacher training and having resources, such as the puppets and other materials, introduced into classrooms can have to make school more fun.  So please come back to see if I can live up to both of these chalIenges I have set myself ! 

Children enjoying the story if Fairis in the classroom 

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Supporting autonomous development Ā …. Learning from NepalĀ 

Again for those of you who know me you will know of my passion and support for working with people in Nepal to improve the quality of education.  I based my PhD on Actionaids literacy programme REFLECT in the Sikles sector of the ACAP and the impact that this had on the women and men there who attended evening classes.  The classes unlike traditional literacy classes were based on discussions and learning together rather than being taught to read and write from a set text.  The centres provided a space whereby the participants, mainly women, could talk about whatever issues they wanted.  This led to their confidence growing in public speaking, problems being discussed and solutions identified and implemented. I was inspired by the impact that this had and the changes took place at the local level.  I learnt so much from the experiences that these women shared with me. This then led on to the Sikles photography project and publication of the coffee tables book ‘Our Village Our Life’ – again the funds raised by this were put to good use at the local level by local people – reaffirming my commitment to autonomous development.

Whilst I edited the booked all of the images in the book we taken by local people.

The book and exhibitions that resulted from this project have helped celebrate life in Sikles and show what life in a rural village in Nepal is like through the eyes of local people.
What more than amazes me though is that this project started in 2008 with a workshop in Pokhara and  a matrix of needs and dreams being drawn up (see image below). This included wanting a new school to be built, a new health post to be built and a youth group to be established as well as increasing tourism and improving the day care cantre.  Now only 8 years on all of these projects have been implemented – with the support of Government, Non Goverment and local people dashing funds and donating their labour.

I have a full prezi talk on this project available here

All of these projects which have been completed are down to the hard work of local people.  I am in awe of all that has been achieved.  The health post has been funded by Government funds, the secondary school rebuilt with the support of the Pahar Trust and youth club is almost complete with funds for the Sikles diaspora and contributions from local people of both land and labour. ACAP, Sikles Development Group, the Women’s Group and Youth Group have all worked together to help implement development projects initiated and developed by and with local people – the very essence of autonomous development.

So when people say to me I have done so much for Sikles I really have to disagree as Sikles, Parche and the surrounding villages have done so much for themselves.  We can all learn from their example. Recently friendship links have been developed by schools in Nepal and the UK, supported by the Pahar Trust Again through these links so much can be learnt from one another, gifts shared across the continents and a deeper understanding of the wealth in Nepal as well as some of the challenges remote villages face.

You will always recieve a warm welcome when visiting friendship linked schools in Nepal.

Sharing stories between Nepal and England helps children here learn about Nepal – here teachers from Sikles are visiting St Michaels in the Hamlet in Liverpool.

If you want to know more about how to develop a friendship link with a Nepal that please get in touch via

Nepal is here to change you not for you to change it !

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The world is your Oyster card …..

Funny how its often easier to walk from place to place in London rather than get on the tube and how travelling underground can distort your senses in terms of time distance and places. Yet as I made my way to St Paul’s from Euston, which requires taking the northern line then the central, I gazed around and started to wonder what the link was between the people on the different underground line was to the class of people who live above. Thinking about where they are coming from what they are doing where they are going – looking around people watching – one of my favourite pastimes. The unsmiling faces, gender balance, mix of cultures and comparing this to traveling around on buses and trains in Liverpool. Thinking of all the classic stereotypical representations and the north south divide. Then it occurred to me that this all links to micro-sociology, to the performances and presentations we all make on a daily basis. What assumptions would people make of me ? And how different travel is in different countries.


This got me to to thinking about how I’m looking forward to the field trips we are running this year in sociology and sociological criminology at LJMU – one to Brussels and one to London and how you could as a student incorporate your observations back to the theories you have come across in your degree ….. One thing that is really important when making sense of field trip experiences is to write them down, have a clear approach and talk to others about what you observe, the assumptions you make and talk to each other to see how your experiences and perceptions are the same or different and how your positionality has an impact on your understanding of the world we live in. Hence this blog to show how my random thoughts led to a conversation with my friend who reminded me of a map of class and poverty linking the tube to income and wealth – so I googled it and found

Definitely worth checking out that link – and looking at the mapping London site – here’s a taster …..


I’d rather walk above the ground, breath the ‘fresh’ air, and make my observations in cafes and parks – but interesting to think how you can link transport to class – and it reminded me of the first lecture Liz James gives on social perspective in the first year when she talks about the meanings and learning we can do from simply people watching on the bus. The key thing is to write down your thoughts and ideas to create a record, maybe use photography to capture your feelings and to use these as a basis for analysis at a later date


Other things you can do is note and compare the feel of the actual tube stations – what is being advertsied where and what state are they in – what does this tell you about the society that we live in

Check out Goffman as well it you want to know more and maybe read an article or two on observation as a method and see where it takes you …. Remember the world is your oyster šŸ™‚

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Geography Sociology … same same but different

Geography sociology what is the difference ? Something I have pondered over the past year and the one thing that stands out is the tradition and value placed on field trips within Geography as an essential benchmarked skill. With the redeployment of myself and my colleagues into Sociology and Criminology we have taken with us our passion for Geography into our new positions. My colleague Dr Giles Barrett won an award for innovative teaching based on his development of a field work module for criminology students paving the way for further work in this area.

Whilst I have brought students to Nepal over the years who have been studying Geography this is my first time leading a trip of sociology and criminology students. All of them have developed research proposals and conducted background research into topics which interest them, which in this group of 13 range from women in prisons, education and disabilities, community police and gender and policing to the role of cooperatives in routing development and the aspirations of women in higher education.

From the minute the students landed it was full steam ahead. For many of them it was their first time traveling to Asia and the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu was a surprise. After settling into the Kathmandu Guest House they all went out into Thamel on an orientation task to familiarise themselves with the environment. This included taking photos, seeking recommendations for places to eat and noting down their observations in their diaries. It was to the the start of an intense journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara to Chitwan and back …. one that I hoped would have a lasting impact …. I’ll post my blogs on my journey and look forward to reading their reports to read about theirs! Maybe they will even comment here ?


Was glad I met the students at the airport !

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To Boldly go…

Great opportunity for students on Monday 4th March to actually test out some of the methods that we cover in the sociology methods module at my university by setting up interview, observation and photography tasks for second years in and around the Bold Street area. Surprised that more students didn’t take up the opportunity to get out and about and put the theory into practice – the ones that did however will have gained valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities presented by using a variety of techniques.

Students took the opportunity to interview Oli and David from Independent Liverpool over a coffee in Leaf about their work and the need for people to support independent retailers in Liverpool – worth checking out their reviews on Facebook and a great source of ideas for dissertations take a look at their web site and like them on Facebook to spread the word !


Others students undertook observation tasks and an opportunity to interview Sam who runs Bold Street Coffee hopefully shedding light on the opportunities and challenges that independent coffee shops in Liverpool face. Will be interesting to hear the students feedback next week on the differences between Starbucks and other coffee shops along Bold Street.


Another group engaged in a visual activity, capturing images of Bold Street and the surrounding area with the aim of comparing it to images of the past. Looking forward to the feedback session in the class on Monday. Taking the time to do the activity helped them see the city through different eyes and led to discussions on the impact changes in society has upon yeh urban environment and the different views that people have on graffiti in the city. Janette Porter was also interviewed by a group of students about her work on a number of projects in Liverpool working with a diverse range of people through the Crass Routes organisation – see for more details. Netty also spoke to her work with Genie in the Gutter and the ‘Out of the Bag’ project which is showcasing in Liverpool on March 22nd.


The morning was rounded off with a presentation and Q&A session with the CEO of FACT Mike Stubbs, who shared his knowledge on the changes in and around the Bold Street area, the role of FACT in the community and FACTs vision for the future as well as discussing the challenges and opportunities that the development of Liverpool One poses!
For what’s on at FACT check out


Thanks to all who participated both students and interviewees – looking forward to the feedback session on Monday morning next week and keep a look out for an exciting initiative that may result from the meeting of people with similar minds related to the use it post from Brussels ! Watch this space….


Filed under education, field trip, LJMU, sociology, teaching, Uncategorized

Loving my job !

Time to reflect on my teaching over the past few weeks and I must day I have loved Tuesdays teaching world development to first years and globalisation to second years. The world development sessions have been particularly inspiring as now with the three hour slot I have the flexibility to run the module as I like and have set it up so that students have been split up into three groups and lead a seminar on one of the key topics relating to the Millennium Development Goals – education, gender or health. This year the two hour lecture takes place the week before and then we start of the following week with student presentations and discussion – and this set up has ally worked. Each week I have walked out of the seminars enthused about the lecture I am about to give and impressed by the level of thought and research the students have put into the sessions, developing quizzes, presentations, finding excellent short videos to support their points and leading the discussion between their fellow students – I have literally not had to intervene at all – which is the way it should be. In addition to that I’ve learnt knew things and have been recommending the things that they have shared to other students in other modules – so all in all win win all round! I’m now really looking forward to reading their reports when they come in and continuing to teach aid trade and debt on this module – nice to have a week of no teaching next week though to reflect and catch up on research – so watch this pace for more posts relating to research and Nepal !


Student led debate on if gender matters as a MDG

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