Tuesday, 8 March 2011

I-to-I day eighteen – No we want to study!

Tuesday 8th March 2011

MP3 track of the day: Twenty four hours - Athlete

Weather: It rained today ... for ten seconds. It cleared the air for a little while however it soon became hot and humid again.

Ofcourse, this being pancake day, I ordered my usual 'three pancakes with lime and sugar' to celebrate this historic, and British, event. Sandy, the American girl, had some pancakes too however she wasn't impressed. The reason is that the North American pancake is a lot thicker than the ones from 'across the pond'. I had a couple of pancakes in Canada and, whilst they were delicious and very filling, for me were too heavy for breakfast. Our British pancakes are best.

Sandy and I had just boarded our tuk-tuk when the heavens opened. I couldn't believe it was raining, I hadn't seen rain since before Christmas and I was very happy. That was until, ten seconds later, the rain stopped. I sunk back into my seat, and folded my arms in disgust. Fortunately the quick burst of wet weather had clearer the air within Phnom Penh, our tuk-tuk ride became one of freshness I've ever had. The road bumps where still there though.

I finally finished reading my book within the tuk-tuk. My book on the Cambodian genocide had been interesting and informative, however it wasn't half long. It was also written like an academic textbook which covered every little detail, making it quite dull ... sometimes. One thing was for sure; compared to the Holocaust, or the Rwanda tribal genocide, I feel that this genocide was more terrifying for the whole population. The Nazi's had a clear group for their genocidal acts, Rwanda was the extermination of a tribe, however in Cambodia anyone was a potential target. You could be everything the Khmer Rouge regime wanted (a peasant planting rice and eating communally) and yet still you could be killed just because a family relative, a friend or someone from the same village was thought to be involved with the old regime, the Vietnamese, practicing religion, the Thai's basically anything the center didn't like. What's more, the center was using so much rice to purchase Chinese military weapons that all Cambodians were dying of starvation. No one was safe, no one could trust anyone else and above all, nobody knew when they might be taken to be killed, or tortured, or probably both. Everybody was waiting to die.

As I mentioned, within my other blog, today was 'Women's rights day'. This meant that we would only play games, all day, and that we would have both morning, and afternoon, classes for the full day. I went into my class to see my students decorating the classroom … again. They quickly tidied up, went to their seats, and wished me a good morning. I looked at the paper birds hanging from the sealing; I noticed that there were quite a few paper birds not in flight, still lying on the unused back right-hand desk. I asked the students if they wanted to continue their art work and finish decorating the classroom. Or I said that we could play a game. All my students frowned, and it one voice said the words I never thought, as a teacher, I would hear:

“...No teacher, we want to study...”

Now, all my teacher friends reading this blog. Hands up who has gone into their class, said to the children that they can play games or do whatever they want, and got the above response? I thought so, not that many of you. I did what any good teacher would do, I said 'okay' and asked my students to open their textbooks. All my students smiled.

The good news was that I had already lesson planned for Wednesday, and so I would use that as a guide. The bad news was that I had both of my classes, together, for four hours (and not the usual two classes for two hours). My lesson plan wouldn't cover four hours and so I had to break up the work with a game or two. Today we were learning the difference between 'next to' and 'across from' … which is quite difficult if you think about it. I drew the example, from the textbook, on the whiteboard. It was a school with eight rooms divided into two rows of four rooms:

  • Lunchroom

  • Gym

  • Library

  • Office

  • Boy's room

  • Classroom

  • Music Room

  • Girl's room

I then started to drill sentences like 'the office is opposite the library' and 'the music room is next to the classroom'. I spent a lot of time drilling; finally I asked my students concept questions like 'what's next to the boy's room?'. It all went very well. Break brought a well earned rest of me and an opportunity to print off my lesson plan. After break I played 'bingo' with my Students. We only played two games, and that took the whole lesson. I almost emptied the bag of numbers on one round.

For the first time lunch as pretty dull. I ate my food and prepared for the afternoon. I only had two more students for my afternoon class. I quickly revised the morning lesson before telling my students that I had drawn myself in one of the rooms within the school (on a sheet of paper that they couldn't see). My students had to guess which room. Each student put their hand up to ask questions like 'Is teacher in the room opposite the library?'. This went on until the students found teacher; much screaming of joy erupted when they found teacher. I then put my students into two teams and asked each student to draw themselves in one of the rooms, but keep their drawing secret. Much cheating took place, however I used myself as a 'buffer' to try to prevent team members spying on other team members. Break was called and I was told, by my students, to stay within the classroom to make sure the state of play was still fair.

After break I let the competition commence. I nominated one student from one team to come up to the board; the other team had seven guesses to find out where this student was within the school. There was a lot of screaming of joy, shouting of cheating and laughter. It took the entire afternoon and the score ended 5-4. The loosing team where disappointed, however I distracted everyone from the result by playing 'beat the clock' for the last five minutes. Teacher lost 5-0 to the class; that put a smile on all their faces.

It was time to go. We boarded the tuk-tuk and, with no book to read, I looked at the surroundings. Once back in Phnom Penh I headed straight to the photo shop to get enough class photos printed so that each student could have one. I wrote on the back 'Thank you, teacher Matt'. I'm going to miss those children. I sighed, surfed the internet and lesson planned before having tea and a quite night in.

Only three more days to go :(

Toodle Pip!

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