Feeling Thirsty

10 August 09

Things are a little different in Gilgil. For one, workshops are starting Tuesday and running through Saturday. For two, this is the second year a TWB-C team is working with teachers here. For three, our ICT team has joined with the other subject-area team on the ground here in Kenya to form one uber-team. (Perhaps that’s over-selling it, but I like using “uber” as a prefix.)

For the uninitiated, TWB-C works on a 4-year model of capacity building. The first year, a team works with local teachers in areas those teachers have identified as high-need. The second year, the TWB-C teachers and local teachers run the workshops together. The third year, the local teachers plan the workshops and TWB-C teachers fill in and help as needed. By year four, the local teachers should have it all under control and only a few TWB-C teachers will be around for program analysis and to gather feedback.

The teachers here who are returning from last year to help organize the workshops are great.

During a subject-area meeting between the team’s English teachers and local returning English teachers today, I got to see what a difference a year makes.

“The Kenyan teacher has to change,” Samuel told us, “I want to see a different Kenya.”

I’m fairly certain any North American teacher could stick their country in those sentiments and have them ring just as true.

Another teacher, Nduati, said, “We subject our students to a lot of torture by always standing at the front of the class and giving them ideas.”

Agreed.

Overall, the meeting was one of hope. Noble remarked, “What they’re saying means we’re doing good.” I hope so.

Kenya, from what I can gather, is on the precipice of moving away from its restrictive exams-based system toward one that values creativity is centered around the needs of the students and has them working collaboratively in multiple modalities.

The U.S., from what I can gather, is sliding down the hill of moving away from a student-centered model that encourages creativity toward one that is, well, what the Kenyans are moving away from.

In a way that’s not nearly as sarcastic as I wish it was, I wonder if maybe our downward slide will end up as a positive because it will force U.S. teachers to be as thirsty for change as the Kenyans.

I’ve learned in running that if you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated. I’m not sure I like the metaphorical implications.

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