Friday, July 2, 2010

There's no question the learning conditions here are rough. It's dark. It's crowded. It's dirty. Saying that it's a difficult environment in which to concentrate would be a broad understatement. So the big question walking in here is, what kind of education are these students actually getting?

Well, I'll tell you, these kids are SMART. Really smart. From the age of three, they are reciting their ABC's and counting and even reading two-letter words. THREE! I don't know much about the curriculum in the US, but I don't think they're whipping that stuff out in pre-school.

Not only are they bright, but they are eager and excited to learn. I think it's pretty clear that going to school here is a privelage (regardless of the state of it), and these kids are leaping out of their seats for a chance to show off what they know. During quiet time while coloring a picture of an apple, several of them happily chant "A is for apple!" Really kid? How did you know that??

Now, while I wish my report was all sunshine and flowers, I suppose no system is perfect. There is a teacher or two who I feel may be failing their students a bit, and it drives me absolutely nuts. A teacher or two who may spend an entire class copying a paragraph from the book to the chalkboard, and expect the students to do the same. No explanations. No questioning whether they understand the concept of what they are furiously scribbling down. And I'll tell ya, they don't.

I look over (literally, a few feet away) at the class of little ones waving their hands in the air and screaming out (correct) answers to every question. And it breaks my heart to think of what will happen when they move into the next term. Luckily of course, most of the staff does not fit this description. In fact, the following term these same kids can expect an enthusiastic and passionate teacher to get them back up to speed.

I'm sure problems like this are not limited to the borders of this country. I can imagine all of my teacher friends back home shouting similar frustrations at their computer screens. I guess it's just the first time I've really seen it in action. While I'd love to rip the chalk out of a teacher's hand and demand that the class actually ENGAGE, I know it's not my place. We aren't here long enough to shake things up and insult they way they do things.

In fact, we have been here a very short time. Maybe I just caught them on a dull lesson plan. Plus I've never taught anything in my life... So hell, who am I to judge? Now is probably a good time to show you how cute it is when they practice their numbers.

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