Skip to main content

School limps into gear

So school offically started on Monday, though the learners didn't show up until Wednesday. Monday was spent throwing together some lesson plans, which consists of copying the relevant material out of the course schedule (the document that details what is supposed to be taught when according to the law). These will bear only a passing resemblance to what is actually taught--and that's probably a good thing, as most of the time the learners are not remotely ready for what is laid out in the work schedule.

Apparently the high school in the next village bombed the matric test (4/25 passing), so on Tuesday a guy from the Department of Education--an Afrikaner who knew a little bit of Setswana, no less--stopped by to read us the riot act. This was frankly refreshing, as it seemed to put the teachers and especially the new acting principal (who used to be the head teacher) in a productive mood. That same day they put me down in the intermediate phase for this first term (grades 4-6--I used to be helping grades 7-9). This seems a bit silly as I know math and science ten times better than any of the other teachers, but on the other hand I'm being replaced with the best teacher in the school and now I get my own classroom, with my own lockable filing cabinet, posters on the walls I can keep maintained, etc.

The other issue with the change is that grade 4 is where everything is supposed to be taught in English, but as the kids don't really get much practice in English they have no bloody idea what I'm talking about. However painful this might be at first, I think it's going to be great for their English and my Setswana also (the latter especially).

The first day, though we started late and ended early, went better than any day I have seen thus far at my school. Every teacher was in the classroom, and I saw all of them teaching at least a little bit. I think this is mostly due to the new principal, who mentioned specifically that educators were not supposed to be in the staffroom during class unless they have some copying or something to do. I was pleasantly surprised at the abilities of the intermediate phase (especially grades 5-6), and managed to teach a few half-decent lessons with a combination of English and broken Setswana. I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic about the new year. Hooray for 2010!


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

The Basic Instinct of Socialism

This year I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and start calling myself a democratic socialist. I think the reason for the long hesitation is the very long record of horrifying atrocities carried out by self-described socialist countries. Of course, there is no social system that doesn't have a long, bloody rap sheet, capitalism very much included . But I've never described myself as a capitalist either, and the whole point of socialism is that it's supposed to be better than that. So of course I cannot be a tankie — Stalin and Mao were evil, terrible butchers, some of the worst people who ever lived. There are two basic lessons to be learned from the failures of Soviet and Chinese Communism, I think. One is that Marxism-Leninism is not a just or workable system. One cannot simply skip over capitalist development, and any socialist project must be democratic and preserve basic liberal freedoms. The second, perhaps more profound lesson, is that there is no s

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves that