This week, while Katie and Anneliese conducted a workshop at Patandi Teachers College, we taught at Shalom Primary School in the morning and continued our LTP projects at Arusha School in the afternoon. For Shalom, we were broken up into pairs and assigned a subject to teach to each grade, working our way up from Standard 3 on Monday to Standard 6 on Thursday. Jenny and I partnered together in creating geography curriculum during the week, while the other students led classes in English, math, and science. Every morning, seventy-some students would gather in a large classroom, squeeze together on wooden benches, elbows resting on the table, bodies leaning forward as they waited to see how we, the wazungu (foreigners), would conduct the lessons. The following images showcase the variety of teaching styles that we use to engage the students in their learning.
Although “LTP” stands for Literacy Through Photography, Jenny and I decided to concentrate on the “learning through participation” part of this hands-on education methodology. Instead of forcing photography into the lesson plan to make “good” use of our resources, we sought to teach by actively engrossing the students in the curriculum. Several hours and twenty sheets of paper later, Jenny and I had created a game based on the economy whereby each group of students represented a country or region (Tanga, Ruvuma, U.S.A., Kenya, China, etc.) and had a list of “imports” that they needed to obtain by selling their “exports.” The first country to acquire all of their imports won the game.
I wanted the students to have fun, but I also worried that the students would not see beyond the physical motions of barter trading with paper cards. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. As the kids stood up one by one to report on what they had learned from the game, I realized I had underestimated their intelligence. Perhaps the students at Shalom are just smarter than most, but I truly believe that the fact that LTP had been previously practiced at Shalom is an important contributing factor. Just like reading a photograph, the students at Shalom delved into the details of the game, and used their creative and critical thinking skills to apply their classroom experience to the world economy. Although it has already been a full month, I still find myself getting caught off guard by all the students with whom I work—whether it is because they exceed my expectations or murmur something with such precocity. Thus, I cannot wait to see what next week has in store; but for now, “peace, Shalom.”
School bus for Shalom Primary School.