Archive for January, 2011

Back from Africa Part 1: Puzzled about Education

Posted on January 19, 2011. Filed under: cultural, educational, reflection, teaching and learning |

Re-posted from my class blog.

I just got home from Africa tonight, and it is great to be home, although I am absolutely freezing! I kind of got my second wind right now (which isn’t surprising considering it’s 10:30 in the morning my body time) so
I thought I would write a quick post.  Africa was a really neat experience. It made me appreciate our education system here in Canada, and it made me really think and reflect on how I am teaching.  I went to a school in Nairobi Kenya while I was there, and I was able to visit three classrooms; a nursery classroom, which is like our Pre-K, class 1, which would be like our Kindergarten/grade 1, and the next grades up which would probably be a grade 2/3 split.  I “taught” a mini lesson in each classroom and it was interesting to see the culture, and how culture resonates through schools.  My student’s parents donated lots of supplies including puzzles for the school, and I decided to take a Dora one with 63 pieces to the grade 2/3 split.  It took them about an hour to finish it.  There were probably 8 students working on it.  This shocked me because I know my Kindergartens could have done it in probably close to 10 minutes.  The African children struggled with understanding the basics of how a puzzle works.  For example, that straight edged pieces would go on the sides of the puzzle, or that a picture of a flower wouldn’t fit into the spot where Dora’s head was supposed to go.  They were looking very physically at the structure of the puzzle pieces and trying to fit them together, rather than seeing the big picture as a whole.  When we finally finished the puzzle, they were so happy saying, “look at the picture! Look at the picture!” It was almost like they couldn’t see the full picture until it was finished.  I don’t know quite what to make of the situation, but it was definitely interesting.  I will write another post about the nursery and grade 1/2 class later, because right now, I’m going to bed!

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