Sunday, September 30, 2007

Making a difference - one picture at a time.

I read once that if you watch three TED Talks videos in row it will change the way you see the world. A big claim but I'll let you decide after watching this lecture by the photographer, James Nachtwey.

I would also recommend the work of Don McCullin, who very much expresses the same sensibility in his work.

EFL/ESL and Google Docs

Although internet access at school for students is once again a non-starter, I have been thinking about how I could use the web with my private students who have internet access at home or perhaps those students at the school who want to do some extra practice.

As well as teaching them the basics of how to set up their own email/chat/Skype and blog accounts, I thought it might be a good opportunity to get them to collaborate on projects via the net. Taking as my inspiration the Flat Classroom Project I will try to get students, who live scattered throughout the city, to create something using Google Docs.

As lessons haven't really started yet this is not going to happen soon. However, I would like them to make their own presentation using Thessaloniki as a basic theme. One idea is that students each choose one aspect of the city to write about. This is then turned into a slide presentation complete with photos, video, text and voice other. Later on students take turns to proof read and correct the others work. Finally, the presentation is posted on all our blogs.

I think a good example of how slideshows can be used is to be found in the Magnum Photos site (click here).

I'm still in the process of working out the technical details and, of course selling the idea to the students and parents is going to be difficult as well. Yet I see a gradual opening up of attitudes as internet use becomes more widespread.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Random moments of self-indulgence

I was looking back at my Flickr page and I came across this. I post it for no other reason than it seem beautiful to me. Taken in the Italian section of the First World War cemetery on Langadas St.

Looking back

It's strange listening to the old guys here speak. Again and again, their talk drifts to when they were in the army doing military service, especially those who lived through the civil war. And I keep on thinking of all the things that happened to you why is this the one that constantly draws you back, that means so much? I guess we all get stuck at some point, anchor our hopes to some specific time in the past than in the future as we get older.

For some reason which I cannot fathom that moment seems to be in the early 80's and although I love music from before and after it is stuff from then that draws me back, even those band I professed to despise at the time.

Here however, is a song that still speaks to me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Late in the afternoon

Late in the afternoon, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Street art

Street art

Altromercato - FairTrade Hellas

Last nights I went to the opening of a new Fair Trade shop in Vyronos 6 (near Navarino Square). I wish Babis, Kiki and everyone else involved the best with their new venture.

Με μια μικρή επιφύλαξη σας μεταφέρω το δελτίο τύπου της Fair Trade Hellas που λάβαμε σήμερα. Επιφύλαξη, γιατί αν και γνωρίζω την Fair Trade δεν γνωρίζω τις δραστηριότητες της Fair Trade Hellas στην Ελλάδα...

Η Fair Trade Hellas την Τετάρτη 26/09 εγκαινιάζει το μη κερδοσκοπικό κατάστημα Altromercato στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Σας περιμένουμε στις 19.30, στην οδό Βύρωνος 6, στο κέντρο της πόλης.

Ελπίζουμε να έρθετε με τους φίλους σας και παρακαλούμε να προωθήσετε τη συνημμένη πρόσκληση σε όσους πιστεύετε ότι μπορεί να ενδιαφερθούν, γιατί αν ο κόσμος χρειάζεται το fair trade, η Fair Trade Hellas χρειάζεται κόσμο!

Η ομάδα της Fair Trade Hellas

"If you go"

"We all wear masks"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The doctor is ready to see you

In blue we trust

In blue we trust, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.


Μοδιανο, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The full story

It has been just over two weeks since I was violently detained by the Greek riot police during a peaceful rally and I thought I would try to put down what happened and give myself a sense of closure over the events that happened.

On Saturday 8th the Greek prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis was scheduled to give his annual address at the International Trade Fair (ΔΕΘ) in Thessaloniki. This is usually the cue for large scale demonstrations in the city and this year was expected to be no exception. The wave of popular disgust and indignation over the government's handling of the forest fire crisis was yet another reason for people to protest. I decided that the rallies organised would be a wonderful photo - opportunity, full of life, colour and a certain touch of drama. And indeed they were. Thousands filled Aristotelous Square and Egnatia Street. Walking through the crowds I was able to take lots of pictures which I intended to put on my Flickr page and blog.

At some point one one of the rallies decided that they were going to march down Agias Sophias St and then onto the Trade Fair and I decided to follow them. Almost immediately the march was accompanied by a phalanx of riot police. As images go, it doesn't get more dramatic than this so I decided to hang back and take shots of them marching down the road in battle formation.

At no point did anyone gesture or shout to me to stop, they remained impassive, if uncomfortably close to the main body of the march considering the fact that tensions were running high. Then as we were going along Tsimiski St a couple of the MAT left the main group and started running in my direction. At first I didn't realise what exactly was happening so kept on taking pictures until they were almost upon me.

I guess the cries and screams from the people behind me should have been a warning but rather stupidly I assumed that I had nothing to fear from them, considering the demonstration was peaceful and there hadn't been a hint of trouble.

What happened next is hazy. I recall being knocked to the ground and having people scream at me. I managed to shout out, "Δεν αντιστεκομαι" (I'm not resisting) and "help". The next thing I knew was that I was face down in a pool of my own blood on the pavement whilst somebody handcuffed me violently.

Witnesses to the incident who contacted me later told me that the riot cop had body slammed me with his shield into a nearby lamp post. That, at least would explain the dislocated shoulder.

I asked them what I had done but all I got was a guy screaming his head off at me. Later on, an officer, I think came along and in a calmer tone of voice told me I was being detained. After a succession of plain clothes police came along and told me I was being taken in for questioning. Again and again I was told that I shouldn't have taken pictures.

Four other plain clothes cops accompanied me in an unmarked white van to the central police station (Αστυνομικο Μεγαρο) where I was taken to the fourth floor to be questioned. There I was asked repeatedly, but politely about my reasons for taking pictures. They examined the photographs and took my details. Eventually, after an hour or so they seemed convinced by my story that I was just taking pictures as a hobby in order to post them on my blog and so said I could go.

Whilst being escorted out some of the officers said that I should clean myself up, though I'm not sure if this was out of kindness or the realisation that letting somebody walk out of a station whilst bloodied and bruised was not the best PR move.

After passing a group of jeering motorcycle cops who were hanging around the main entrance I got a taxi home to make sure that someone could pick up my daughter from her friend's house and to get my IKA book so as to be ready when I went to hospital.Itook this opportunity and posted something on the blog in order to let people know what had happened (see here) Luckily, a friend of mine offered to take me to the Agios Pavlos hospital, Kalamaria where I was treated by doctors in the orthopedic clinic. After being X-rayed, they informed me that I had suffered a dislocated shoulder and possible fractured nose.

After a couple of days I decided that I would press charges, even if I believe the chances of the person who did this being punished are tiny. I feel that if I don't do something then it is tantamount to saying what they did was right.

Two weeks later I am still in pain and I find sleeping difficult, if not impossible. I still can't figure what I did that deserved such a violent response. At no point had the police, either through gesture or verbal warning indicated that I should stop taking photos. Indeed, I'm absolutely sure on this point as I would have heeded them immediately, as I had done when taking pictures of some of those on the demonstration.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Egnatia 66

Egnatia 66, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Get them while they're young.

"Kid #3: My Mommy says smoking kills.
Nick Naylor: Oh, is your Mommy a doctor?
Kid #3: No.
Nick Naylor: A scientific researcher of some kind?
Kid #3: No.
Nick Naylor: Well then she's hardly a credible expert, is she?"

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Junkie, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I took this a few months back when I first got my camera, I was sitting in a cafe on Egnatia St when I saw this guy doing loop the loops on the steps of a church. I grabbed him so that he wouldn't topple them. Luckily, I persuaded him to sit down before he hurt himself.

"You gotta get close, Rich, to get the truth."


Street semiotics for beginners.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hotel Olympic

Hotel Olympic, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I'm not sure if it is the fact that I've started back at work or the shock of what happened but I find taking pictures has become more difficult. Something has changed and I can't quite put my finger on it.I went out today with my camera and willed myself to photograph stuff just to prove to myself that I can, but it seemed forced..

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aristotelous Square

The ripple effect

I just came across this in the Guardian website;

Greek riot police beat up photographer

September 20, 2007 12:24 PM

When a teacher decided to take photographs of a peaceful demonstration in Greece, he ended up with a dislocated shoulder, fractured nose, multiple cuts and bruising after being beaten up by riot police. He says he was arrested in Thessaloniki on September 8, placed in an unmarked van by the four plain clothes cops and taken to the central police station. He was later released without charge. The teacher, aged 40, blogs under the pseudonymn of Teacher Dude, and is originally from England, now living in northern Greece. (Via Teacher Dude and Flickr)

Interviewed on TV

I've just got back from appearing live on a programme on one of the local TV stations, TV Makedonia here in Thessaloniki. A nerve wrecking experience as you can imagine, not helped by the fact that the interview was all in Greek and not my mother tongue.

Once again, the photographs I posted on this blog of what happened when I was violently detained by the Greek riot police, simply for taking pictures of them have had effects in the "real world". I was contacted by a journalist yesterday who had seen my blog and wanted me to come in and tell my side of the story.

As well as talking to me, the presenters talked by phone with a representative of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Employees, who, by strange coincidence is in many of the pictures I took on Saturday, 8th. The person, whose name escapes me for the moment, categorically insisted that I had no right as an ordinary citizen (i.e not an accredited member of the mainstream media) to take pictures of him in the street. Indeed, that as there was a march going on that I should not have been doing so.

Even when the presenter asked him which law stated this (which as far as I can see doesn't exist) he insisted on the fact that such photography was not permitted.

I don't know what is scarier; that a police officer is so unaware of basic rules governing conduct in public spaces or the fact that they feel that they can impose whatever rule they want, at a whim.

Two - Konstantinos Vita

All photos by Teacher Dude.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gimme Shelter - The Greek 2007 elections

The general election is over here and the ruling New Democracy party was returned to power with a reduced majority (click here for details). Over the campaign I took lots of photos with the intention of showing how such elections are in Greece. Hopefully, the video I made will give a sense of what was happening here. Dramatic, but politics here tend to be so.

The music is Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones. All photos by Teacher Dude.

Blog for effect

Strange how the internet changes things. Ever since I first put the pictures of me being attacked by the police last weekend there has been a steady stream of people from all over the world who have sent me messages of support and written about the incident on their own sites. As a result the story has been picked up by the mainstream media here in Greece and I've been interviewed by journalists from the Eleutherotypia and Makedonia newspapers as well as doing a live interviews for, a radio station based in Athens (nerve wracking to say the least). There seems to a momentum to all this which I have you, the readers of this blog to thank for.

I'd like to thank all those bloggers who have talked about the incident;

Chris Bertram at
Annie's Animal
Too Many Tribbles
No Snow Here
Devious Diva
Black Cat, Red Cat

So, once again thank you for all your help.

Kids on the net

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Once again, the school year has begun and once again I have to persuade students and parents that the"unusual" teaching methods and material I use will help them achieve their goals; namely help them learn more effectively and increase their chances of getting a certificate.

My hardest battle, however usually revolves around the use of the internet. For many parents the mere mention of the word invokes fear and suspicion. Having been bombarded with scare stories from the mainstream Greek media they shy away from allowing their children near it.

Of course, concerns about younger people having unsupervised access are not to be dismissed as there are dangers a plenty on the web. Yet, this is true for so many aspects of our life. We do not, for example, keep our kids confined to the house because there are traffic accidents on the streets, do we?

Instead we teach them how to behave responsibly when in the street and so one of my first jobs when introducing kids to the internet is teaching them how to do it responsibly and safely. Still, sometimes it feels as if I'm fighting a losing battle.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The League of Green Chairs

Well, something different, at least.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

The eve of the Greek elections


"This is a picture I did not take of a woman in fitness workout wear; running shoes, shorts and an active top; standing by herself in a deserted aisle of a flourescent-lit supermarket, her arms crossed in front of her chest, tears smearing her cheeks while she unwaveringly stared at the store's selection of baby diapers."

copyright 2004-2007 Michael David Murphy

I came across the Unphotographable site a few weeks ago and thought that it would be a great way to teach my students story telling skills. Michael David Murphy gives a short description of something that he has seen recently. A word picture of beautiful intensity. In addition he has recorded these in the form of a podcast (click here) which are wonderful.

Lesson Plan

This is aimed at upper intermediate and advanced ESL/EFL/ESOL students.

1 Give the students a copy of the story above and ask them to read it. deal with any difficulties in vocabulary etc.

2 In pairs students discuss what the background to the situation might be.

3 Elicit answers from the class.

4 Divide the class into two groups. Ask one of the groups tp leave the classroom for two minutes.

5 Tell the other group that they are going to hear a description similar to the one they have just read.

6 Play one part of Micheal David Murphy's podcast (twice if necessary) and ask the students to listen carefully and write down as much as they can.

7 This griup then leaves the classroom and compares their notes.

8 Ask the other group outside to come back in and get them to listen to another short section.

9 When both groups have had enough time to discuss their answers everyone comes back into the class and gets into pairs (one from each group) and discuss what the other person heard.

10 Play both sections again and ask the students to comment on how accurate their partner's description was. If necessary give them a printout of the descriptions.

Follow up exercises could include;

A Their own descriptions which could be writtean and recorded on their cell/mobile phones.
B Finding a picture on the internet which could go with the text.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

I paid for these pictures with a dislocated shoulder, fractured nose, multiple bruising and smashed glasses.

All because the Greek riot police (MAT) didn't want me to take photos during a peaceful demonstration.

After being beaten, violently handcuffed( hence the dislocation), I was arrested questioned and later released without charge.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learning through doing

One of the reasons I have been taking photos at various rallies and demos over the last few weeks was that in wanted to try my hand at a photo essay. Inspired by the work of the Magnum agency and hoping to get my stuff published in JPG magazine I have been collecting images of the parliamentary election campaign here in Greece. In the next week or so I hope to be finished with the picture taking and start work on the text.

I've found this essay by Wendy Folse especially helpful.

As with so many things I try my ultimate aim is to be able to use the skills I pick up in order to use these ideas effectively in my English lessons.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

But why?

This is the question I've been asked countless times over the last four days by all kinds of people. Why do you take picturs like these? Why do you go out onto the street and photograph such stuff? Don't you know it could be dangerous? And to tell you the truth I don't have a simple answer . It's not as if I court danger or look for trouble in my everyday life. Quite the opposite. However, photography, especially street photography has been something that has always fascinated me, and finally, I have worked up the nerve over the last year or so to try it out for myself. I just love the idea of capturing tiny slivers of everyday life, which give a taste of what life is like here in Greece away from the beaches and archaeological sites.

Over the last couple of weeks one of things I was trying to capture was what a Greek election campaign feels like for ordinary people and not just those connected with political parties. Hence the photos of posters and rallies. It's quite different from the ones I experienced whilst I lived in England and I wanted to share something of that difference.

I guess like so many hobbies people have, my taking photographs seems quite bizarre to those who do not share the same passion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pressing ahead

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone, and especially the Greek readers of this blog for their support and best wishes. It has really been great to know that so many people want to help. The good news is that I have found a lawyer to help me and we are in the process of pressing charges. I would like to ask anyone who saw what happened on Saturday to please get in contact if they would like to be a witness. Email me here if you can.

Πρωτα απο ολα, θα ηθελα να ευχαριστησω ολους σας που στειλατε μνηνηματα υποστηριξης και βοηθειας. Αν καποιοι απο σας ειδατε τι εγινε το Σαββατο και θελετε να βοηθησατε, στειλατε email.

Once again, thank you all for everything you have said and done.

PASOK party rally - Thessaloniki

I took this just to show the b#st#rds who beat me on Saturday that they haven't stopped me taking pictures.

Monday, September 10, 2007

An appeal for help

My visit to the public prosecutor proved unsuccessful. Evidently, I need to hire a lawyer in order to press charges. If anyone can help me (δεν ειναι αναγη να ξερετε αγγλικα αφου μιλαω αρκετα καλα ελληνικα) email me here.


I'm off to the public prosecutor here in Thessaloniki to press charges over my attack and arrest on Saturday.Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I paid for these pictures with a dislocated shoulder, fractured nose, multiple bruising and smashed glasses.

All because the Greek riot police (MAT) didn't want me to take photos during a peaceful demonstration.

After being beaten, violently handcuffed( hence the dislocation), I was arrested questioned and later released without charge.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Beaten up by the police for taking pictures

today you'll have to forgive the lack of punctuation as i'm writing this with only one hand. the other has been dislocated i think, i'm off to a hospital to get it checked out after this.
apparntly taking photos of the police is illegal here in greece as i found out to my cost when a MAT snatch squad got me during a peaceful demo. after slamming me to the ground an making sure i stayed there with a few well placed punches. i was then handcuffed violently and arrested. my crime, taking pictures. luckily they didn't bother pressing charges.


i went to the hospital an i have a dislocated left shoulder, painfully put back into place by three hefty guys, a fractured nose, and muliple bruising. all because some manic idiot couldn't control himself.

Winter's coming

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

"Oh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away."

Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones

Friday, September 07, 2007

Crass publicity stunt

Crass publicity stunt, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Μια προταση της Ν.Δ για την τεχνιτη αναδασωση.

Just when I thought that things couldn't get worse in the election campaign I saw this sight, just outside a New Democracy electoral centre on Tsimiski. Obviously, it's is not enough to fail abysmally to have dealt with this summer's forest fires which left 67 dead and million of hectares of devastation. The ruling party has to rub our noses in their particular mess with this incredibly crass attempt at "reforestation". Last night these trees suddenly appeared outside one of their offices. Words fail me.

Night in the centre

As the summer comes to an end the city is once more filling up, the centre teems with life as people adjust to the rhythms of the coming winter.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The last tree

The last tree, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Μια προταση της Ν.Δ για την τεχνιτη αναδασωση.

Just when I thought that things couldn't get worse in the election campaign I saw this sight, just outside a New Democracy electoral centre on Tsimiski. Obviously, it's is not enough to fail abysmally to have dealt with this summer's forest fires which left 67 dead and million of hectares of devastation. The ruling party has to rub our noses in their particular mess with this incredibly crass attempt at "reforestation". Last night these trees suddenly appeared outside one of their offices. Words fail me.

"When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money."

Cree prophesy

The row

Photo by Teacher Dude.

The guy in white was a taxi driver who'd just had an accident on Egnatia.

Junkie dreams

Junkie dreams, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

We care, we really do.

Taken by Teacher Dude.

We care

Like hell they do. As the elections approach the city's walls fill up with posters of people you'd cross the street to avoid. This guy is standing on the L.A.O.S. ticket. Politically, they are just to the right of The National Front or Central American death squads.

"politicians. You know the ethics those guys have?
It's like-uh, a notch underneath child molester."

Annie Hall.

Street math

Street math, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I saw this guy furiously scribbling away in Aristotelous, you know in the way that those in the grip of a serious psychosis do, frantically noting down every little detail of their latest conspiracy theory When I looked closer he was doing trigonometry.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Egnatia 12.53

Egnatia 12.53, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Taken today whilst wandering through the centre in between lessons.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Scenes from a wedding

Scenes from a wedding, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Thank You For Smoking - A Lesson Plan

I saw Thank you For Smoking over the summer and as a satire it was one of the best I've seen for a long while. So, here is a lesson plan for upper intermediate and advanced students that uses it. You don't need to show the whole film, just short extract(s) - two or three minutes long.

Lesson plan

1 Write, "Thank You For Smoking" on the board. Now ask students what is weird or unusual about this sentence. Of course, usually we are asked not to smoke.

2 Now explain that this is a title of a film. Ask students to write down a couple of ideas about what it may be about. If some of them have already seen it, ask them to form a separate group and write down the main idea of the movie.

3 Students swap ideas.

4 Tell the students that they are going to see a short extract from the film and that they should write down as many points as they can.

5 Now show a short extract (2 mins 30 sec till 5 mins)

6 Students exchange notes in groups of two - four (depending on their language level.

7 If necessary, show again.

8 If some students have seen the movie before they form groups with those who haven't and explain the main idea of the film. Alternatively, get them to explain it to you.

9 Now tell the students that there is going to be a class debate on banning smoking in public places such as bars, clubs etc (see here for the law in England).

10 Divide the class into two. One half will be in favour of the measure, the other against. They think of as many points that support their viewpoint.

11 Students form groups of four to six with people from both "sides"and and discuss the issue.

12 This could be used as the basis for a discursive essay writing lesson. Students could also record their personal opinions on their mobile phones (video or audio) and upload them to their blog. They could then ask other students to comment on them.