Monday, July 14, 2008

Shalom Primary and St. Joseph's Secondary Schools

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, the eight Duke students taught at Shalom Primary School (ages 7 to 14) and St. Joseph's Secondary School (ages 14 to 21). Both are private, English-medium schools.

Shalom Primary School
I taught mainly at St. Joseph's, so I only taught at Shalom on Wednesday. Lindsay, Minette, Baldeep, and Michelle taught all three days at Shalom. Their class was made up of about thirty children of mixed ages, from standard three to standard seven. There, the children completed a reading photographs activity and a self-portrait project. Shalom is by far the nicest school we have encountered here - the classrooms are clean and all have electrical outlets, the teachers are well-dressed, and the children seem happy and are well-contained. This situation inspired a great deal of conversation about the sort of tug-of-war between schools where we can teach most effectively versus schools that need us the most. When we teach at schools where students come from more affluent families, the students generally can better understand when we teach in English. However, we feel drawn to helping the more economically disadvantaged sector of the population, where the communication barrier creates much more difficulty and thus we cannot use our teaching time as effectively. I don't think there is a real solution to this issue in the timeframe in which we're working, but we've resolved it mainly by teaching in schools that are all over the economic spectrum.

^A student at Shalom learns about framing.

^Shooting self-portraits at Shalom.

St. Joseph's Secondary School
I taught with Alia, Ami, and Kaitlin at St. Joseph's Secondary School on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. St. Joseph's is an all-girls' Catholic school that is run by nuns who live in a convent next to the school. One of the sisters from St. Joseph's came to the second LTP workshop, and due to her enthusiasm about the program we were able to establish connections with English teachers there. The school is very neat and well-run, and we observed an upbeat and positive atmosphere in the time we were there. We taught both form one (ages 14-15) and form three (ages 16-17) . The creativity and clarity in our students' writing in the reading photographs exercises as well as the results of the Misemo project that standard three completed were absolutely remarkable, and it was a truly enjoyable experience.

My name is Brian. I'm ten years old. I live in New York City in America. I'm the last born in our family. My parents are business people, and my brother is a policeman. I am studying at Victoria Academy School in standard three. Our family is good in life.
But one thing that I won't forget in my life is that day when my parents died in an aeroplane accident. They were traveling, going to Paris. On the way, the pilot had been confucing (sic) with the air hostess... now he couldn't manage to survive with the aeroplane and it was too cold in the sky. Now the flight fell down.
That aeroplane fell down on the big ocean of water. All the people died including my parents, but only two of them survived in the accident. The day when my parents died I was in the class. Now our class teacher Madam Ami told us that there was a very dangerous accident, happened yesterday evening of an aeorplane. All the people died but two of them survived. On my mind I think that my parents died. That day I cried very much. My brother John told me that it's true, our parents have passed away. They are not again in this world. Since that day our life with my brother was very poor.
My brother started sick, then he died. I was very lonely. Nobody could help me with anything. And nobody could pay for my school fees. And our house was cold with our relatives. My relatives abandoned me. They said that they can't stay with me again.
From that day I couldn't manage to go to school again. My education ended there. Since that day I was a street boy walking here and there borrowing some money. One day, it was a Sunday morning walking, I passed on the road and saw many children playing there. I joined with my friends and I was picking up some pieces of boxes. I was wearing a white shirt, black shorts and black shoes.
-One form one student's writing in the reading photographs exercise (edited slightly). The students were each given a photograph of a scene from a 1950's American city, which included a number of people walking and talking on the sidewalk in the background and a group of young boys playing with debris in the foreground. The students were asked to pick one person in the picture and write a creative story about that person in the first person.

^Shooting the Misemo project at St. Joseph's.

^Students at St. Joseph's admire their work.

After-School Book-Making Class
This week, I also started teaching an after-school book-making class on my own at Arusha Primary School. I'm working with a small group of about ten standard six students (ages 11 to 13ish) for up to two hours each afternoon. The students come on a completely voluntary basis, and are writing their own stories in English (a paragraph at a time). I correct their stories for them each night, and they are making illustrations as they go along. I'm hoping that they will be able to reach their final products by the end of this week, which will be books that they make by re-writing their text neatly on white paper and placing their illustrations to go along with their text. We're hoping to have a small exhibition of all the work accomplished in the after-school programs early next week.

^Hard at work in book-making class.

The Weekend
This weekend was our second-to-last here in Arusha. We did a good deal of shopping, went out one night to a local restaurant/bar/dance club, and just generally enjoyed being here. During this week and half of next week, we are teaching in primary government schools. While students there have English classes, the schools are Swahili-medium and the students understand a minimal amount of English. More to come on that later!

^A performance by a what we called a "zebra gymnastics" group that we saw on Friday night.

^The group minus Baldeep, who was playing photographer.


Dr. Sanford Aranoff said...

It is interesting you are teaching at both a Jewish school (Shalom) and a Catholic school. In either case, you must know how students' minds work. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

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