Sunday, August 13, 2006

Let the Term Two Exams Begin!

I need to unwind/vent a little bit before I can get to sleep. I was sick for four days this week and missed some of my invigilation. That's where the learners sit in class from 7-9am “studying” and then somewhere from 9:30am-12:00pm they take an exam. We do this from July 31st until August 15th. Exciting?

Correcting the term two exams is in full swing. I just finished part two of the math and I want to poke my eyes out. Granted it was the tougher of the two exams, the class averages were ... oy. The top class average was 26.5%. Second place, getting nipped at the tape, was in at 26.1%. Third place strolled in at 21.7%. The top learner had 42 correct out of 60 for 70%, which is a B in these parts. The lowest was a 1! How do you score a 1 anyway? The person who teaches grade 8 math took my exam for fun, and scored a 37.

As one of my friends over here said, “I came over here to teach secondary math, not primary.” We volunteers could be doing so much more, helping to lay a strong foundation for the learners, if we were at the elementary level instead of trying to repair a collapsing structure in the secondary or as in many math cases, rebuilding a collapsed one.

My experience of teaching math in primary level, is hearing of it – the children singing a song about five monkeys falling out of a tree - every day. Counting down from five to zero. That's their math! In the upper primary levels they practice counting in the triple digits, going up or down by one. I don't hear any practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, and I walk by their classrooms and listen in during my prep periods some days. I know language barrier would be a problem for the very young, but the math I'm doing now is 4th and 5th grade math. Why not teach it to real 4th and 5th grade learners?

Well, enough delaying. I don't think I'll be able to weasel my way out of correcting English papers 1 and 2. I'm mostly done with paper 1, which is when I forced myself to take a breather. Peut-être je devrais enseigner en français? I couldn't possibly do any worse than I have teaching them in English. Calgon, take me away! :)

Back to the weasel–reminds me of a Homer Simpson quote:

“Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.”

One more thing - I saw that my old employer is trying to pass a referendum this November. Reminded me that one of my best math learners here couldn't afford to pay the school fees for this year (they amount to just over US$9 a trimester), so her family is going to give the school a goat.


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