Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Killing time

This is assessment week at school so all of the children are taking midterm tests. Normal classes have been suspended and having Americans in the classroom during study time/test taking is too disruptive so that means there has been little for Aubrie and I to do. Each morning there is a school assembly where the children gather and listen to a couple bible readings, say some prayers, listen to announcements, and finally sing the national and school anthem. Morning assembly ends around 8 am and after that I have simply been killing time. Sr. Martina told Aubrie and I that we were welcome to hang out at the house but I feel guilty not working.

The librarian Josephine also has a lot of free time this week so we have had some nice conversations. We have discussed a variety of subjects including why the teachers use a switch. Almost every teacher carries around a stick and misbehaving results in a smack or two. For instance last week an entire class was maybe fifteen minutes late getting to the library so Josephine made the children get on their knees (another common disciplinary method) and slapped each child's hand twice. I haven't decided how I feel about this. Initially I was repulsed by what I always thought of as a barbaric form of discipline. However I noticed that the children tend to be much better behaved than American students. Last year there was a workshop for the teachers that taught other methods of discipline but after a short time the teachers returned to using the switch which they think is more effective. It makes me wonder if there is a correlation between the use of a switch in the classroom and the casual slapping, shoving, and hitting I see everywhere in both children and adults. I have not seen anyone at our school beating a child excessively but I wonder how often that happens in other schools around the country.

This week I have also been going outside with the children during recess. Tuesday afternoon I helped out with a nursery class and as time goes on the children are getting more talkative and friendly. After the usual round of hugs, high fives, and handshakes we started kicking balls around. The three and four year olds would trip over the ball more often than kick it. Soon we started singing and it reminded me of visiting my mom in her Early Childhood classroom. After the little ones go in, the older kids come out for their recess and another round of hugs, high fives, and handshakes begins. After a half hour of this my hand usually starts stinging. Still it's fun to watch the kids with their enthusiasm for life.

Other things that help kill time include making lunch, checking email, filling up water pitchers, moping the bathroom floor. Still I feel like the seconds are slowly ticking by and I miss the fast pace of life in the US. I can hardly wait for normal classes to resume next week.

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