A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Advantages and Disadvantages

My class yesterday at the teacher’s college did not go so well. They changed the time table on me again and I had a different group of students for the third time this term. I have never had the same class since the first week. I had to start from the beginning and give the same lecture I have been giving. It is a very boring lecture on the history of social studies, different approaches, and the phases social studies has gone through in Africa over the last 100 years. I spent most of the class repeating myself over and over again and rephrasing my questions because the students did not understand my accent.

When we were discussing the different methods of teaching social studies I asked them the advantages and disadvantages of teaching with those approaches. With every approach they told me the disadvantage was that it was time consuming for the teacher. I finally told them that was a stupid answer and I never wanted to hear it again because that is life. Teaching is time consuming. Get over it. When we were discussing the next approach and I asked for disadvantages the very first answer was that it can be time consuming for the teacher. I wanted to scream!

Even beyond that frustration, my students only give text book definitions and do not know how to think outside the box. When they give an answer I will probe them to go deeper but they are incapable and simply rephrase their first answer.
With a class of over a hundred students it is always noisy. I can’t get them to all be quite at the same time. A few take naps while others are doing homework for other classes. They only perk up when they get to ask questions.

These are the questions they ask:
How is Obama? Do you know him?
Can you get me a visa and take me to America?
Are you married? Will you marry me?
Can you sponsor me and pay my school fees?

It was one of those days where I left class and wondered what I was doing. The students don’t really want to be there. It is their only option because they didn’t get into University. My class seems like a pointless class – they only need it to pass their teacher’s exams. Who cares about social studies methodology? Am I really teaching them anything significant and that will help them in life? And I keep changing classes so I don’t even have the same students. How can I build relationships?

On a brighter note – I had a great creative writing club this week. We listed adjectives and came up with a wide variety of words to describe ourselves other than big, black, and fat (the three words they always use to describe themselves). We did some serious editing and critiquing of our poems and made final drafts. Then we hung our poems up for everyone to read.

Maybe the trick is working with younger minds that are still somewhat pliable.

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