On Elementary Education

I’m not a teacher! This is my constant refrain, whether it’s an excuse as to why I’m still mystified by lesson plans or a self-reminder that I have a lot to learn on this adventure. However, that phrase isn’t stopping me from diving in (being thrown in?) headfirst to the education system of Colombia. I’m not well-versed in the intricacies of any education system, but even I can tell that this is quite a different system than we might be used to in the States 🙂 Think: an overabundance of energy and packed classrooms paired with a deficit of air conditioning and “indoor voices”…let’s just say the first phrases I’ll be teaching will be, “sit down, please,” “hands up, mouths shut,” and “it’s Seño Shanna’s turn to talk!” 😉

I visited three schools this week: a Catholic girls’ school and two public schools. The second public school is the site of my practicum, where I’ll be teaching English to 1st and 3rd graders once a week for the next month. I’ve got a classroom of 25 very inquisitive 6-year-olds to entertain with the English language for 90 minutes, then I have a class of 23 third graders for a 45 minute lesson. We’re starting with a review of “Old MacDonald” and numbers. Both groups already have a lot of personality.

The first graders crowded around to stroke my hair, marveling at the many colors and how straight it is (that’s never been a good thing before, in my opinion!) They asked my name, and when I asked, “what name do I look like?” One little girl said, “princesa.” Day made!

The third graders, on the other hand, didn’t care about my hair. Instead, they wanted to know how many kids I had, who my husband was and how old I was. I did not appreciate their shocked looks when I said I’m 23!! Come on, it’s not THAT old! But I suppose that makes me more than twice their age…and thus begins the circle of life.

The trending topic among us PC trainees is what city we’re hoping work in for the 2 year assignment. Right now, I really want to learn more about Cartagena–I’m getting lots of experience here in Barranquilla and I’ve already decided that Santa Marta is probably too small of a city for me, but Cartagena is a mystery to me! I’m looking for a site where I can get involved with community development and/or NGOs dealing with social issues, where I can also get involved in my own community, whether that’s around my school or around my host home.

Lately, I’ve been thinking hard about the urban/rural debate. My initial impulse is to stay as urban as possible, because it fits my personality and because there likely to be more NGO options. However, my experience in rural Argentina has been on my mind lately, and how much I enjoyed the slower pace and the rich relationships I was able to build in the pueblo.

So that’s where I’m at right now! It’s been a thought-provoking week, both in site visits and in my new Spanish class. Cheers to the fact that it’s almost Friday!


One thought on “On Elementary Education”

  1. Off topic: When I click on your ‘keep in touch’ address, google maps centers on Black Oak Mountain Resort near Coffeyville, Kansas!

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