Our first visits to the local schools. Immediately impressive is the sense of welcome. Very soon after comes the beaming friendliness of the students, as if all of the kids who lined the roads saying “hello” on the cycle trek were here now for their lessons.
If they are fazed by our presence in the classroom it is not immediately obvious. The place-value lesson we saw in Year 1 (kindergarten) was expertly executed. The many years of work in this area is apparent. It was a lesson we could happily copy and paste into our own classrooms. The room was a happy place that the kids could own: walls of drawing and a shelf of clay mud sculptures on a theme of daily life. They included effigies of local livestock and some robust looking pumpkins.
At the second school students worked in cooperative groups. One group had an especially challenging task. Having been taught addition of three digit numbers with trading, what do they do when their addition compels them to go into a fourth digit?
In the room next to ours a group of older boys was on cleanup duty, brushing down the walls and removing unauthorised fauna. The big lizard was none too happy to be deprived of his classroom home, biting onto the bristles of the broom that was trying to evict him and hanging on for dear life. Hopefully the students will value their time in the classrooms as much and be just as reluctant to leave!
Outside in the playground afterwards we may have started a fad. Jenny and I showed them some finger tricks which the children then tried to emulate. A few of the more successful students will either be the most popular or the least popular kids in the playground over the next couple of days, until the next craze comes along.
In the afternoon it was over to Prek Chdor school to meet our translation team for the days ahead. Reasmey later told us that the finger trick we were teaching is actually a bit rude!
At dinner we reflected on our impressions of the schools, noting the contrast in atmosphere and energy between them. Little touches like the kinds of decorations in the classrooms seemed to reflect the feelings in the schools. How important those things can be!
Can’t get over the fact it has only been three days.