Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 7

Final year exams are holding this morning. That leaves us teachers with nothing much to do - except sit in the staffroom and chat.

Today is the funeral of the 14-year old boy who killed himself two weeks ago. School carries on as normal, but a handful of students wearing R.I.P. shirts leave mid-morning to attend the funeral service. It's truly heartbreaking.

I start off this blog post (on paper) so I can free up time to study when I get home. Have you ever tried combining full-time work and full-time study? Don't!

I've been hearing some talk of something called PODs around here since last week, so I ask my teacher what it's all about. Unknown to me, it's a hot topic and in a matter of minutes there's a fierce debate going on about it in the staff room.

It turns out it's all about a revolutionary learning system 'imported' from Australia, in which secondary school students are not taught by subject (English, Mathematics, Biology, etc.) but by theme. So, for instance, a class will have a theme of 'The Environment' for a term. The idea is for the students to find various ways in which the environment can be explained in terms of every possible subject, from English to Biology to Maths to Geography. The argument in the staff room is about whether or not the method is effective in imparting knowledge to students. Quite naturally, people's opinions are varied. I personally think the system is quite murky, and results are not guaranteed. Well, time will tell.

It's soon time for the mid-morning break. I relax in the staff room eating jam doughnuts and sipping coffee. Hmmn, maybe a teacher's life is not so bad afterall...

The topic for my afternoon lesson is fractions. Many of the students struggle to understand it, so I walk around to give assistance. A few of the kids are genuinely making an effort to understand, but the rest of them just loaf around. A boy pratts about the class, swearing by the dozen and showing off his six-pack for the girls to see.

I do a couple of sums with a lad who thankfully finally understands. Seeing this, I prompt him to finish up the sums, but he can't be bothered to. He prefers to just sit there and idle the time away. I realise kids like him are simply not interested in learning, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. How can you possibly help someone who doesn't want to be helped?


Gbolade Shoyemi said...

I dont know if its appropriate to call this teaching experience "enriching", but clearly you now have an insider's opinion on what i'll call a unique educational reality.

But I must say, I find the POD approach you described as most appropriate for the kind of facility you are curtrently involved with. Considering the profile of the students in the school (some resume i must!), I'm of the opion that what they need is definitely not lessons in Algebra, Grammar, Coordinates, Physics etc... The Theme-based knowlegde experience could be the most appropriate...Maybe, just maybe, selecting a series of theme may be the most appropriate means to yank these kids off their current "societally" challenged path. Like you made mention in your earlier posts, these kids are not exactly "academically" challenged, they are simply control "impaired"(and I dont mean to sound demeaning) and definitely have their own rules (and to borrow your words "themes") they live by, probably an education system/curriculum that steers this particular type of facilities or govt. program could be the first-case approach in intervening. Just a thot anyway...!

Richard said...

The theme based approach COULD work, but the teachers aren't given enough time or training to plan for it, so it just becomes an unproductive mess.