I woke up Wednesday feeling pretty tired after being out to late the night before. We intended to get home early but our driver couldn’t have been less punctual. I joined Papa Zulu for breakfast where we discussed picking up Dan on Friday. Finally, Dan will be joining me on our South African Adventure! After breakfast I made my way to the primary school.
When I arrived at the school there were no children playing outside so I decided to just walk in the direction of the classrooms I thought I’d be able to find Pam. Before I got there I was intercepted by another teacher. I’m sure I have met this teacher before but I couldn’t remember his name. He told me that there was a classroom down the walk that had no teacher.
Next thing I knew he was ushering me into the room. The 40 plus students looked to have been having a field day in their teacherless classroom and were quite shocked to see us walk in. He informed me that this class was to take a math test and wanted me to assist anyone and help proctor the test. Before he left he quickly went over each part of the test, occasionally looking over at me for approval. He spoke mostly in Xhosa but I was able to follow along. Math is it’s own language. As he spoke the students would unanimously respond, “Yes teacher,” after everything he said. When he finished going over the text he bid me good day and left.
Upon leaving the students looked around and began talking. I knew I had to act fast before losing control of the class so I stood up and introduced myself. I told the class that I was there to help and if they needed me they should raise their hands. Those that don’t need my help should quietly work independently on their tests. They seemed to get the gist of it because they all quieted down and began working on their exams.
Slowly, but surely hands started going up, and it became very evident, as I walked around, that the majority of these students had no idea what they were doing. This test covered geometry and algebra both in their most basic forms, but it was still too much for these students. Had their teacher not expected to receive the tests at the end of the period I think it would have been easier to just reteach everything. Judging by the overall confusion and lack of math skills I’m not sure these learners had ever been taught it in the first place. Most of the questions were loaded questions which proposed a whole new level of difficulties because the students couldn’t solve the first step of the problem to even arrive at the second part. I moved fast throughout the classroom giving small lessons on how to find an average, how to read a graph, and about the different shapes they were being questioned about. There was only so much I could do, and time wasn’t on my side. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t seem like the teachers care how the students do on the tests. It’s appears they just give the tests to take up time so they don’t have to teach. When the bell finally rang most of the students abandoned the classroom, some turning in very unfinished exams. A few students stayed back as I was in the midst of teaching them how to find the percent of a number. I don’t think all of the students followed what I was saying but a few seemed to get it. I took a few pictures of the test to share with teacher friends back home. It wasn’t the worst test I’ve seen, it’s just that these students weren’t even close to prepared for it.
Before long students fled back into the classroom and they were followed by their teacher. He asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping grade a few English exams. I’m really not a fan of grading but I understand how overwhelming it can be for a teacher. I sat down with him and began going through the workbooks. The test covered reading comprehension and writing. The students had to answer a few questions on a short reading followed by a short writing exercise. This was a bit time consuming to grade because most of the students had much difficulty with the writing which meant loads of correcting. Out of 60 points I think the average score was in the low 20s. It was easy to tell the students who could understand English from the ones who couldn’t and it was clear that most of the students really struggled to read it. The performance task asked the students to write two paragraphs about, A day I will never forget. I read a couple stories about from students about the fire that swept through Kayamandi this past year. Their writing was basic but their point was clear. It was a terrifying event being woken up in the middle of the night to the sounds of chaos. The fire was spreading quickly through the shacks and everyone had to run for their lives. Sadly, two children were killed in the fire. I couldn’t imagine having so little and then having it all taken away from me in the middle of the night. Because of where the fire was no firetrucks could come. I read from one student that her dad pleaded for an ambulance or a helicopter but the ‘help’ told them it wasn’t available. My heart definitely goes out to these kids. I probably graded the majority of the tests I worked through a bit more generously than the other teacher.
After school I went home, followed by a few new students, and began my writing. I can’t remember the names of the students that came by but I had worked with them the day before while in Dume’s class.
At 4 I met up with Eric at the Trust Center because we would be heading back over for another Judo class! For this class both of us suited up and joined in with the fun. I’m really working hard to be the best White Ninja I can be! We were each paired up with different kids throughout the class which made it a lot of fun. They knew the moves but we were still much bigger than them and could throw them around with ease. Maybe once we are both a bit better we will start practicing throw downs on each other. At the end of the class a young boy named William asked if he could be my partner. I accepted and we began practicing our throw downs. William is probably half my height and maybe 50 pounds when wet. We fought for two minutes and I made sure to let him take me down a few times. One of the instructors, Theo, has both of his sons involved with Judo. You can imagine they are both very skilled, but they are still quite young. I was paired up with his older boy. In the picture is Eric, Theo’s son, and myself. I talked to Theo about visiting and observing one of the schools his sons go to. I think it’d be pretty interesting going from a school in Kayamandi to a school in Stellenbosch. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Once home we ate a delicious dinner of chicken, homemade bread, and salad. The bread was very good and I hope there will be more of it!
Later in the evening we met up for another game of Catan. We played two games, both very close and both very competitive! Hanneke won the second game for her first win!! I couldn’t have been more proud! haha