Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dora's Random Rantings on School:

Today was the third day of school, and things are sooo different here. Students show up randomly almost. In our class we are suppose to have 31 students. On the first day of school, 16 showed up, yesterday, 19, and today, 21. Because of the African concept of time, NOTHING starts on time. The kids play in the playground for almost an hour in the morning (until all of the day's students show up), then at around 9:30-9:45, class starts. Recess and lunch is almost just as random. None of the teachers wear watches and there are no clocks in the classrooms. But that is the norm not only in this school, but all schools in Ghana, and for everything (other than flight times) in this country. I've heard about the phenomenon, but experiencing it is another thing. CRAZY!

I'm partnered with a grade 1 teacher, and thank God we get along well. The kids are pretty good though. The pastor, who's also principal (or we call him director here), is from Hong Kong, so the kids are well disciplined. However, the behaviour of the new students (new acceptances) are atrocious. Today I broke up a fist fight. Two students got into some argument, then they started hitting each other. Then a friend of someone who was in the fight came along to "help" by hitting the other person. Then another friend of the other party came along to "help" by hitting the other. It was a disastrous chain that spread to about 6 kids. While I was breaking up the fight with one pair, behind my back, the other kids started to hit each other. It was too much for me..I was only able to talk to 3 of the students after the whole thing stopped because then it was lunch time, and the rest ran out. Usually I would want "justice served" for all the kids involved, but they all look alike to me!

That's my other struggle. All the black kids look alike. Especially the girls who have their head shaved. So it is a challenge to learn their names.

Another challenge is their accent. I'm having a really hard time understanding what they're saying and vice versa. Makes classroom management and teaching challenging. Two kids would be arguing about something right under my nose and I wouldn't be able to tell what they're saying or who's right/wrong.

Next Monday, hopefully all the students will arrive so that we can actually start teaching. I'm going to train a few teachers what little I know about starting a school-wide reading program (though this only involves 3 classes for now), so I hope it goes well. There are so many cultural differences here to get used to, understand and accept, so hopefully I will be able to be sensitive to their cultural differences when I'm training them so that the reading program will be acceptable to them. Especially since I have heard that the teachers here are a bit reluctant to try new things.

1 comment:

Irene said...

woah... tough... that's a lot of issues to deal with at the same time. How about getting all the kids to wear name tags (big ones) that they hang around their necks (kinda like the kind that kids at daycamps would wear)? Print their name with black marker in the centre and then get them to decorate around their name for art? Then the kids can leave their name tags in the classroom before going home and put them on again when they come back the next day :D