Yesterday I decided to whip out some of the school supplies I was able to bring and declared the day Mechanical Pencil Monday. FAIL. Well, it wasn’t a complete fail; At least now I know to give gifts at the end of the day.
I began giving pencils out early in the day and the kids were extremely appreciative. For every one I gave I received a “Thank you, sir. God bless you.” The children guarded them like treasure and had big smiles on their faces; it was nice to see something that we would regard as a simple gesture to be received and appreciated so greatly!
With that said, the kids fought and fought. “Godwin stole my pencil from my pocket!” or “My graphite is gone!” Well kids, figure it out… I am not the pencil police and I’m sorry. I eventually just told them to put them away or I would collect them because it was impossible to get anything done in the classroom with the disruptions.
I wanted the kids to be able to use the pencils so I told them that I would see about getting more lead or graphite as they say. On the other side of Accra there is Accra Mall and it is basically a western mall; there are a ton of Obrunis there and high-class Ghanaians. It saddens me to think that many foreigners come to Africa and see only this side of Accra—this isn’t Africa; this isn’t the way most people live at all. Also, this mall is the only place where you will see children begging and they aren’t even African children, they are Indian children; I swear it is like something out of Slumdog Millionaire. They see you, come up to you, grab your arm and say “Master, a bite to eat; some money?” And they usually hang on for about a minute and while it is heartbreaking and can also be a little obnoxious.
Anyway, at the Accra Mall there are two big grocery stores that carry a variety of products, one of them being lead/graphite. We got to the aisle where the school supplies were and graphite was like 8 cedis (about $7)—UNREASONABLE. Everything is much more expensive there because mainly upper-class people go there, but for me that was just too much. Even deodorant was around 10 to 11 cedis ($9).
Today (6-16-2010) I apologized to the students for not being able to get graphite; however, I was able to get a couple of storybooks which made today’s Creative Arts lessons all the more worthwhile. Yeah, today I taught Creative Arts; it’s beginning to look like I am just going to be a go-to teacher for when another teacher doesn’t want to teach. I taught two creative arts classes, one math class on probability, and a social studies class on Ghana’s Cooperation with Other Nations (basically on participation with UN, ECOWAS, & African Union). I was exhausted by the end of it; I just woke up from a 1 hour and 20 minute nap and I feel good J
All of my teaching is done on the spot because I don’t have any of the books to prepare ahead of time and often I don’t even know what I am teaching until I am teaching it. In one of the Creative Arts classes we talked about the necessary parts for a story (characters, subject matter, title, audience, etc.) and then I read them a story and we then answered questions about what we had previously discussed. The next Creative Arts class was several years ahead of the last class so the book would have not been as engaging. Instead, we also talked about the different parts of a story, but this time they were supposed to come up with one of their own that they could act out for the class. We came up with the subject matter and four characters together, the rest was up to them.
It is extremely difficult for these kids to do anything on their own, as in think creatively or for themselves. None of the plays include what we had talked about as far as characters or subject matter go. In addition, one group found a play in their book and read straight from that and the other teacher actually encouraged this despite my instructions—that was a little disappointing. I am going to make it my personal mission to get these kids to somehow think for themselves when it comes to their writing and creative thinking. I asked for examples of subject matter and everything I got was HIV/AIDS, Drug Abuse, Obedience, Disobedience, Death, etc. I’m not sure they completely understood me when I said that stories could also be about fun/exciting things (i.e. playing football (soccer here), cooking dinner, a birthday celebration, etc.).
I actually just finished reading PUSH by Sapphire, the book that the movie Precious was based on. This book was an excellent read, especially considering my new mission of teaching these kids to THINK. In addition, the book simply teaches you to love. I would definitely suggest you read it, but beware because it is graphic at times.