Monday, September 20, 2010

The School and Teachers

These are the first graders. In the classroom, there is currently no electricity, so it is very dim. If it is not raining they move their table and rented chairs outside. They only own four of the chairs. The tables were made possible by wood donations, and donations for labor by another foreign friend. You'll read more about this teacher and the other educated teacher below. This teacher asked for help, and seemed very receptive and appreciative. She had no idea how to teach reading.
Believe it or not, it used to look worse, before the white wash. Damp conditions quickly ruin nice paint jobs on walls, as my own freshly painted walls can attest! When I left, there was one more colorful teaching poster, several inspirational quotes, a number line counting up the days in school, and a clothesline with pins to hang student work. I did as much as I could in the four days I had. I left all kinds of supplies, and added many books to their library, which consisted of one set of Childcraft Volumes, donated by the same friend who paid for the tables. They also gave two used computers, a VCR, tapes, and software for use with the kids. They had no idea how to use the Childcraft books, so we had a training session where I explained and demonstrated their use. I brought some practice books and plastic report folders to use with them. I showed them how to write, wipe, and reuse. 
The principal asked me to lead a whole-group session to teach them action songs and help their English. They knew Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. I taught them Open Shut Them, Clap, Clap Your Hands, Peter Hammers With One Hammer, Father Abraham, Kumbaya, and some games.
These are the second and third graders. Their teacher has an education degree, but her oral English is very weak. She uses Hindi to teach even English, although this is supposed to be an English medium school. There are two little girls at this table. Can you find them? I couldn't tell the boys from the girls because they all dressed alike, had short hair, and some girls wore boys shoes, and boys wore girl's shoes! This teacher was harsh, and not very open to suggestions, as she has a degree. She would not eat with the students or other teachers (except for the one in the outside photo) because she considers them below her. She would not eat the cookies we prepared together, because Christians had a part. The principal considers this "untouchability" which he says has no place in his school. I think this teacher is history! He told her if she couldn't agree with the ways of the school, then don't come back. She did not return Wednesday afternoon, nor did the first grade teacher. Sad, but I really was not impressed with them at all. They were harsh, smacked the kids in the head, taught by rote, and did not encourage the students. They did not read to them, display any of their work, or let them do anything creative.

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