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 candidates.
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 decided.
But there were positive outcomes:
1. The teachers were all riled up and actually talked to us.
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?