25 July 2003
So. Here we are at the end of
another trimester. Exams begin on
Thursday, leaving me only three more lessons plans to write and then it’s time
for marking madness. We’ve been
pretty busy lately because we’ve started to become more involved with the
school. We didn’t do much the
first trimester because it was all we could do to keep out heads above water
trying to figure out what was going on. Now
that we’re “in” things are starting to get a little interesting.
One difference is that Zac and I have actually
started participating in the Monday and Friday morning torture sessions (sorry,
I believe the euphemism is “meetings”).
To put these meetings in perspective, let me give you a little anecdotal
story. When Zac’s dad came to
visit, he sat in on our Friday morning meeting, and he tried to guess which
teacher was the “grim reaper” from my previous email.
After the meeting, he said he couldn’t figure it out. Too many
Anyway, in our Monday morning torture session this
week Zac and I brought up for discussion the four laptop computers that were
donated by Elon University. The
first item of discussion was the borrowing policy.
The teacher that beats learners proposed that the teachers be allowed to
borrow the computers for a week. Most
of us felt like that was too long because what if all four computers were
checked out and then a fifth person needed to use one?
This led to a big argument between the teachers and the principal about
whether or not the teachers actually will use the computers. There used to be a
desktop computer in the staff room but it went for repairing because it had a
“virus” and was left in the Ondangwa East office, which got burnt down.
Zac says the tragedy of this is that the computer never really had a
virus anyway. So the
principal was arguing with the teachers saying that even when there was a
computer they never used it. They
argued back saying that some of them did use it, and some didn’t but that was
only because they didn’t know how. Even
Zac and I joined in the argument saying that we were going to teach the teachers
and then they would use them. The
principal was still adamant that the teachers wouldn’t use them.
I’m not sure why he was being so discouraging, he was getting really
angry and everything. It was kind
of fun actually, to finally have everybody talking.
In the end, a good time was had by all and absolutely nothing was
But there were positive outcomes:
1. The teachers were all riled up and actually talked to
2. We began
computer training sessions that very day.
Zac and I both enjoy showing people the magical world
of computers, but we quickly learned how many computer concepts we take for
granted. For example, it seems
obvious to us that to open an item, you have to click on it. But for the beginning teachers, this was not so obvious.
They kept putting the cursor on a button, and then asked why it wasn’t
doing anything? Well, we patiently
explained, you need to click on it. Then
there’s the matter of single click and double click, right click and left
click, etc. They do pretty good
with typing, but then you have to explain the difference between delete and
backspace, and the arrow keys and enter, highlighting…
We’re also teaching them excel so they can use it
for their grades. People’s math
skills aren’t very good here, so the idea of a giant magical calculator
intrigues them. The problem is, we
quickly discovered, that it is vital to understand the concepts underlying the
math in order to use excel. Herein
lies the problem. But we’re
hopeful. With time, all things are possible. And what do we have in Namibia besides time?