Saturday, 8 August 2009

Some snippets from teaching at Morning Star by Madame Caroline.

9/7/09

My first day at Morning Star is one I won't forget in a hurry. West Africa still live in Victorian times apparently as they still use the cane. There were 3 children who received zero in a homework so the teacher (Paul) lined them up by the board to receive 10 canes on the hand each. The class chanted the counts whilst he caned the children. I'd never in my life seen these teaching methods before, where the teacher teaches his class to the rhythm of the cane. Anyway, after a week teaching with Paul and a brief chat with him about the negative effects violence has on children in the classroom, he hasn't used the cane once since last week. Paul and I share the teaching, but he keeps sitting me down at his desk and tells me to relax whilst he teaches and I have to frustratingly watch him spell Saturday, Seturday. He told me to do P E yesterday which didn't go down that well, as somehow it turned into an hour of playing drama games. Whoops. All in all school is a lot of fun, tiring but hilarious. And if I ever get bored of the children, many a goat and chicken are sure to visit me in my classroom throughout the day. The kids are great, I did ask them what the capital of Ghana was today though and they replied G. Hmmm, work in progress...

21/7/09

After a week at Morning Star, despite it being one of the most tiring jobs in the world I'm really enjoying it. I'm getting used to the structured days and the children asking me if they can 'free themselves' (just think about it literally). I have also decided to focus most of my attention on the teacher this week as I think helping him will be the most sustainable thing to do here. So we're working together most days, I evaluate his teaching and he tries to learn as much as he can off me. I was quite skeptical about doing this at first as I didn't want to stroll into the classroom as an educated white girl who claims to know everything, especially how to teach. To be honest I don't really know the foggiest myself. Due to no teaching training, this past week we have been focusing on planning lessons (a term he has never heard of quite shockingly) and also ways to keep the class calm. He no longer shouts and hasn't caned the kids since my first day. Laura, another volunteer at Morning Star takes my class once a week whilst I teach her class French. She commented on the improvement of the atmosphere of the class and how their concentration levels have increased. I understand that this is still a very small step towards changing the education system out here, however I truly believe that training Paul to become a more competent and well organised teacher will set him up to get a better job which is well paid and it will help him greatly in the long run.

I've been teaching quite a bit of french here also which is great, despite after the kids singing me a french song my response was, what language is that? The accent they are taught is entirely different so it's something I'm getting used to. There was no school today as it was pissing it down for 4 hours straight. And when it rains here, oh it pours...

This weekend a few of us headed to MOLE National Park. Around 5 hours away on the bumpiest road I have ever encountered. Another fascinating journey and the bumps were well worth it. We were greeted by elephants drinking from a watering hole and baboons waiting outside our dorm. We went on a 2 hour safari walk where we saw many a Pumba (Warthog) and antelopes. Needless to say the Lion King soundtrack was our sing song choice on the walk. There was a mystery incident however, involving a girl from california, her peanut butter, my rucksack and a baboon. I came back to my dorm to find my rucksack opened and peanut butter smothered all over it and my clothes. It turns out the welcoming baboon outside our dorm fancied some of the sweet spread and I guess he was looking through my bag for something to spread it on... A rather high maintenance baboon if you ask me.

30/7/09

Alex, another volunteer here in Tamale is working in a school where they have an amazing music and dance teacher. He arranged for some of us to have a lesson in traditional Ghanain dance and song. We were taught some dances equipped with drums, song, rhythm the works. The songs were quite similar to that of Rokia Traore - check her out, she's brilliant. We then went back to the same school today as some of the kids were putting on a performance. To our shock, when the kids had finished, the teacher got three of us up with him, and somehow we re-created what we learnt on Monday and performed it in front of the entire school. A truly embarrassing but hilarious moment. The crowd went wild...

It's been a bit slow at Morning Star this week as they currently have exams this week. Whilst they're completing their papers - equipped with painful spelling mistakes - I'm helping Paul with his reports. Feels a bit bizarre as I've only been in the classroom a few weeks. However, it has its benefits as its forced me to notice the really clever ones in the class and I'm making sure they get the praise and encouragement they deserve. Something which I feel is lacking in this school. It's really sad to think that some of these talents will be wasted in this society, due to lack of funding for further education. But don't worry I've already picked the ones which will be coming back with me in my suitcase...

Life is beginning to feel like normal now. This is something I thought I'd never feel at the beginning, but it's strange how you seem to adjust to even the most alien of environments.

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