Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to School – part 2

So I’m back from my bird walk by the river. I took three of my female students with me. At first two of them were talking on their cell phones, but once we started to see birds they really got into it. We ended up identifying 10+ different birds and talked a little about where you see them, the kinds of nests they build, how they hunt, etc… It was late enough to see bats hunting too, which led to a brief lesson on echolocation. I love teaching science outside! It’s also great to get to know students outside of class, which is easy at this school since many of them live on campus.

I like to be available for my students and sometimes they reach out to me. The other day, for example, a student came up to me after Biology class and asked me to feel her breast. I did, and felt a large tumor. She said she’s had it for about a year now and had already gone to the hospital. They sent her home with some stomach pills which obviously did nothing. This morning I accompanied her to the hospital and the nurse tried to do the same thing. When I saw the prescription for ibuprofen, paracetamol and erythromycin (pain relief, pain relief, antibiotic). I stormed back in and told the nurse that merely poking the tumor and writing a prescription was not ok! I asked to see the doctor but, it being Saturday, he was out. We will return on Monday and demand a biopsy. If they don’t have the means to do that here I plan on going to Xai Xai. I was frustrated with the hospital for giving out pills like candy, but I was glad to have been there to help. Patients like my student go to the hospital and leave with pills thinking they have been treated when really they’ve only been processed and dismissed.

Having venting my frustrations, I want to express that, despite all the challenges, I am feeling good about this semester. Although I enjoyed teaching English and think I made a difference, I think teaching science in Portuguese will be even more powerful. I have a chance to give these kids some valuable knowledge that can improve their lives. Knowledge of science will help them in agriculture, it will help them to stay healthy and make informed decisions, and it will help them to see and appreciate their surroundings in a more profound way. Science is also a great tool for teaching critical thinking skills, which are all but erased by the “memorize and repeat” method they are subjected to throughout primary school. Even though the task seems impossible, I can find solace in the small accomplishments. There’s no way they will leave my course without learning something valuable. And I am learning too.

1 comment:

  1. Cool posts. Sounds like amazing experiences. I am considering a placement in Mozambique. Everything I have read this far on the Peace Corps Journals page has been great. Any advice or thing you think I should know before accepting?

    Did you get to change from teaching English to Science? I would love to do that also. If you have some time I would love to hear from you