Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 3rd, 2017


Lebanese dinners: we promise there will be loud music, fantastic food and awkwardness. Lots and lots of awkwardness.

1. The Kissing Conundrum
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This is the number one most awkward scenario likely to happen at a Lebanese dinner. You walk in and, of course, have to kiss each and every single member of your family.

Is it a one kiss for the cool, hip aunt? Is it two for your cousin’s Syrian wife? Is it six for your grandmother, who gives three wet kisses on each cheek?

Wait, should I kiss my cousin on the cheek if I’m a guy and he’s a guy? Hold on… Did I just try to handshake this bearded person, OUT OF POLITENESS, and he shook his head and moved away?

During this forced ritual of social interaction, you will peck two or more people, get rejected by three, and inwardly curse your parents for forcing you to be here.

2. Remembering Everyone’s Names
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In fairness, this is not strictly a Lebanese problem but with the huge tables and all-too-familiar faces, it becomes difficult to remember your mum’s grandmother’s sister’s daughter. Of course, the worst part about forgetting their name is the fact that they somehow ALWAYS seem to remember yours.

The more Lebanese-esque problem here is: do we say Tant, or Aunty, or Madame, or 3ammo to our parents’ friends? Do I call my teta’s sister Khalto or Teta?

I never know what to say!

3. Teta 
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Your teta tends to make things awkward by either forcing food on you if it’s her own, or unabashedly complaining about the quality of food if you’re at a restaurant, which makes you wish you could just disappear under the table… forever.

“Teta, did you try this? No? Have a bite. It’s good. But add some toum. It’s better. Look, there’s wara2 3enab. Let me put it for you.”

Teta ❤

4. I’d Like to Have the Last Piece of Kibbeh? Yes? Please?
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I mean, come on. The mezze is never evenly distributed anyways, and no one seems to want that last piece but your mother is giving you that look with the raised eyebrows and forced smile that indirectly communicates: “You’ve already had three pieces, leave some for the others.”

You, nevertheless, awkwardly eat it when no one is looking and wait for your mother to lecture you at home later about how you completely lack in lady-like etiquette.

5. Got Full from the Mezze. What Do I Do with the Mashewe?
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Honey, you eat it. It cost a shit load of money, and you seemed super excited to order that shish tawouk sandwich at midnight which, I will not hesitate to remind you, costs triple the kibbeh you couldn’t seem to stop eating seconds ago.

6. Is This a Game of 20 Questions?
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Discussions are amazing – don’t get me wrong. But when someone you essentially consider a stranger starts asking you personal questions that you have a hard time even talking to your own friends about, we’ve entered awkward territory.

Especially if it is the all-too-familiar: “when are you getting married?” question by your great aunt.

7. The Drunken Uncle and the Overdressed Woman
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The drunken uncle is hilarious.

He gets cray on the shots of arak, and if by any chance, the restaurant/house has dancing music, he will dance all over the place. If you’re not accustomed to this, you will feel very awkward.

On the other end of the table, you have your mother’s super prestigious friend who sits with three kilos of makeup and nine inch heels, and kids that are super quiet and scared. It’s awkward just looking at her.

8. When They Decide to Talk about Politics
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When you see the talk moving towards anything political, kindly excuse yourself and exit to the bathroom to play a quick game (or two) of Quiz Up.

Things are about to get loud, drinks are about to spill, and lahme is about to be thrown. It will resolve itself rather quickly, and everyone will become best friends once again.

We promise.

9. The Fight Over the Check
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This one should not be missed because, although infinitely awkward, it is nevertheless enjoyable to witness.

You will see the zu3ama (“masters”) of the table rise to bicker over who gets to pay the four hundred dollar check and wonder to yourself why they don’t simply divide it to make life easier.

Don’t feel awkward, bro. You should feel like a boss!

10. The Endless Post-Dinner Conversations by the Car
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At this point, you really just want to go home but for some reason, five hours of conversation and 20 goodbyes are not enough for Lebanese people.

Mobile Learning? User Generated Education?

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Education 3.0 and the Pedagogy (Andragogy, Heutagogy) of Mobile Learning

Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. posted this May 8, 2014

The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement based on the evolution from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0.

I discussed this in Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning and implementing Education 3.0.

Many educators are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning and implementing Education 3.0. This post compares the developments of the Internet-Web to those of education.

The Internet has become an integral thread of the tapestries of most societies throughout the globe.  The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being; and people influence the development and content of the web.

The Internet of today has become a huge picture window and portal into human perceptions, thinking, and behavior.  Logically, then, it would seem that schools would follow suit in mimicking what is happening via the Internet to assist children and youth to function, learn, work, and play in a healthy, interactive, and pro-social manner in their societies-at-large.

Most schools are still living within and functioning through an Education 1.0 model.  They are focusing on an essentialist-based curriculum with related ways of teaching and testing.

Similar to Web 2.0, Education 2.0 includes more interaction between the teacher and student; student to student; and student to content/expert.

Some educators have moved into a more connected, creative Education 2.0 through using cooperative learning, global learning projects, shared wikis, blogs and other social networking in the classroom.

Education 3.0 is a connectivistheutagogical approach to teaching and learning.  The teachers, learners, networks, connections, media, resources, tools create a a unique entity that has the potential to meet individual learners’, educators’, and even societal needs.  Many resources for Education 3.0 are literally freely available for the taking.


Taking this one step further or from another angle, moving from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0 can be compared to moving from Pedagogy/Essentialism/Instructivism to Heutagogy/Constructivism/Connectivism.

This can be looked at as a continuum going from Pedagogy to Andragogy to Heutagogy (PAH).  The following graphic describes these three approaches to teaching. (I understand that educators may differ in the descriptions and definitions especially that of pedagogy).


This translates into moving from an education approach driven by essentialism or instructivism to one that is based on constructivism and connectivism.

Essentialism is defined as:

Essentialism tries to instill all students with the most essential or basic academic knowledge and skills and character development. In the essentialist system, students are required to master a set body of information and basic techniques for their grade level before they are promoted to the next higher grade.

Essentialists argue that classrooms should be teacher-oriented. The teachers or administrators decide what is most important for the students to learn with little regard to the student interests. The teachers also focus on achievement test scores as a means of evaluating progress. Source:

Instructivism can be described as:

In the instructivist learning theory, knowledge exists independently of the learner, and is transferred to the student by the teacher. As a teacher-centered model, the instructivist view is exhibited by the dispensing of information to the student through the lecture format. This theory requires the student to passively accept information and knowledge as presented by the instructor. Article Source:

These descriptions fit the characteristics of an Education 1.0 or a traditional pedagogical teaching framework.

The andragogical, more constructivist orientation takes on the characteristics of Education or Web 2.0 where the principles of active, experiential, authentic, relevant, socially-networked learning experiences are built into the class or course structure.

The heutagogical, connectivist orientation is closely aligned with Education 3.0.

In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability.

The renewed interest in heutagogy is partially due to the ubiquitousness of Web 2.0, and the affordances provided by the technology.

With its learner-centered design, Web 2.0 offers an environment that supports a heutagogical approach, most importantly by supporting development of learner-generated content and learner self-directedness in information discovery and in defining the learning path.  Source:

Even though heutagogy is usually defined and described for adult learners, given these times where we are living with open education resources and information abundance, learners as young as the elementary level have the potential to engage in educational experiences based on heutagogy.

In other words, they can engage in self-determined and self-driven learning where they are not only deciding the direction of their learning journey but they can also produce content that adds value and worth to the related content area or field of study.

Choosing the Teaching Orientation

It should not be as simple as stating that one, as an educator, uses one teaching orientation over another.  Educators need to examine what they are teaching and the population to whom they are teaching.  For example, procedural knowledge such as how to do first aid or fix a car; or a fixed body of knowledge such as human anatomy (for the medical field) or the study of law is typically best taught through a more teacher directed, “pedagogical” style. It becomes teaching with intentionality and strategically using the teaching and learning philosophies and approaches to reach desired outcomes.

Applications to Mobile Learning

The Pedagogy of Mobile Learning

With the idea that pedagogy is in line with a instructivist-essentialism method of teaching-learning, mobile learning in this category typically falls into the dissemination of content knowledge via apps.

[In my opinion, there are way too many apps developed for education fall into this category, with start-ups trying to take advantage of the use of iDevices in educational settings.]  Their goal is to directly teach students content knowledge or a skill whereby they can repeat and/or be tested on the content provided to them through interacting with the apps.

I have classified these apps as worksheets on steroids.  Typical examples include flash card types of apps like Netter’s Musculoskeletal Flash CardsThe U.S. Constitution – Flash Card Trivia, and Math Drills.

I use a simple criteria to determine their efficacy, “Would the learner choose to use the app if given the choice or use it during his/her free time?”

As stated above, though, there are cases in which a body of knowledge needs to be learned by the students.  Some more engaging, interactive apps are available (and probably more interesting) to the learner.  Examples include:  Solar Walk™ – 3D Solar System modelFrog Dissection, and highly interactive eBooks.

The Andragogy of Mobile Learning

Again, although Andragogy has been described for teaching adult learning, we can extract his basic principles and apply them to the Andragogy of Mobile Learning for most age groups. Many project-based learning characteristics (authentic, real world problems; networked learning; use of collaborative digital tools) would fit under the category of the andragogy of mobile learning. Here are some resources and examples:

The following presentation demonstrates project-based learning with mobile devices in a High School Science class.

The Heutagogy of Mobile Learning

Creating a heutagogical-based mobile learning environment is in line with some of the recommendations from the ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2011 report:

Use technology in more transformative ways, such as participatory and collaborative interactions and for higher-level teaching and learning that is engaging and relevant to students’ lives and future plans. Use technology more to extend learning beyond the classroom.

The learners in a heutagogy of mobile learning environment:

  • Determine what they want to learn and develop their own learning objectives for their learning, based on a broad range of desired course outcomes.
  • Use their own mobile learning devices and technologies to decide how they will learn.
  • Form their own learning communities possibly using social networking tools suggested and/or set up by the educator.  Possible networks, many with corresponding apps, include: Facebook, Twitter, Edmodo, Instagram, Blogging sites, Youtube, etc.
  • Utilize the expertise of the educator and other members of their learning communities to suggest and introduce content-related resources.
  • Utilize the expertise of the educator and other members of their learning communities to suggest Web 2.0 and other online tools for that the students could possibly use to demonstrate and produce learning artifacts.
  • Demonstrate their learning through methods and means that work best for them.  It could include using their mobile devices to Blog, create Photo Essays, do Screencasts, make Videos or Podcasts, draw, sing, dance, etc.
  • Take the initiative to seek feedback from the instructor and their peers.  It is their choice to utilize that feedback or not.

Some general learning activities that have the potential to be introduced by the education using a heutagogical approach include:

Here is a slide deck that I prepared to present the concepts and ideas I presented above.

Note.  The question is: How many years must a student go to school before he is liberated to learn on his own? In any case, if apprenticeship to skills is Not included early on in the program, the kids will never find the zeal to learn any further.

DNA of ancient Phonecian boy suggests a new model of human migration

The findings of a recent study backed by DNA evidence is shedding new light on the genetic origins of perhaps the most celebrated civilization that once thrived in the Middle East.

The researchers have successfully sequenced the first complete genome of 2500 years old remains of a young man discovered in Carthage. The Sequencing revealed that the ancient boy’s genome contains a rare European hunter gatherer genes; the finding has the potential to trigger the rewrite of the migration pattern of ancient Europeans into the North African region.


Location of Phoenicia
Location of Phoenicia.Source

Researchers claim that the finding is significant as it could shed light on the scope and tendency of ancient people’s movement across continents.

The young man whose remains were discovered in cartage belonged to a civilization known as Phoenicians.

Major contributors to the rise of mankind to the glory it enjoys today; Phoenicians were the genius civilization who created the first organized system of alphabets, effectively paving the way for the rise of knowledge and science in the coming millennium.

Phoenicians lived in a chain of coastal city states of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos and Arad; constituting modern day regions of Lebanon and southern Syria.

According to historians the very first Phoenician city started forming sometime in 3200 BCE; and by 2750 BCE Phoenicians had developed into a thriving civilization comprised of many city states.

Mainly peaceful folks, Phoenicians pride themselves in maritime trading and manufacturing all kinds of everyday items. With the trade stretching as far as Britain and Greece, Phoenicians were able to invest in the business of making ships, glass items, and a variety of other luxury goods such as dye, used for dying clothes and sometimes human hair?

The demise of the Phoenicians started in the year 334 BCE, when Alexander the Great swept through the region conquering Sidon and Byblos and then arriving in Tyre.

After witnessing the obliteration of other city states, the elders of Tyre decided to peacefully surrender to Alexander; however this did not stop the carnage that devastated once thriving and peaceful civilization.

Historical figures differ but it is safe to say that Alexander’s Army brutally massacred some 30,000 Phoenicians including skilled designers and a number of great Phoenicians; those who somehow survived the ordeal were enslaved, soon after that Phoenician civilization slowly died out.

The researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand claimed that the DNA sequencing of the Phoenician boy known in the scientific community as ‘Young man of Byrsa’ or ‘Archie’; resembles to a modern day Portuguese.

A study was carried out in Lebanese region to find the resembling sequence, however, no confirmed match was reported Hence the European origins of Phoenicians became a plausible theory (How that? If the original Phoenicians DNA didn’t match, how can we jump to this ridiculous conclusion?) 

Note: What made the scientist start from the hypothesis that this man is indeed a Phoenician? He might most plausibly be a Portugese mercenary, as it was very common at the time. Mercenaries flocked from everywhere.




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