Saturday, July 31, 2010

At School (Sean)

It is interesting that school seems to be a construct of American or European industrialism, and is applied to other developing countries regardless of whether this method is consistent with their culture. For instance, every aspect of Mozambican culture is social and collective. Truly, no man is an island in this country, and people grow up relying on each other. Now imagine putting 45 teenage Mozambicans in a small classroom and asking them to something absolutely independently: take an exam without speaking. Moreover, they don’t seem to be bothered that the teacher is watching them cheat. They barely try to hide it, and every time Clancy turns her back, half the class looks around for moral support and silent (or not-so-silent) conferencing. Even when I’m looking right at them! Kind of like herding cats or filling a bucket of water using a slotted spoon.

Though Clancy’s classes hybridize 10th grade material with pre-school behavior, the students are certainly interested in learning, so much so that they are at the edge of their seat to try out every new English phrase. Still, I can’t help but feel that the structure of western schools doesn’t work well here. There is a lot to like about this student body and culture. Half of the class jumps up to volunteer in English exercises and dialogues- that just doesn’t happen in the states! I feel like these kids could be extremely good at things which we struggle at, but the structure of the schools must be re-directed to realize this potential. What kind of alternatives are there to the style of secondary schooling we receive in the United States? I have no idea! How else could the same important information be delivered and received in a way that is more conducive to and effective in this extremely social culture?

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