MJ Live

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Checking In (Written 2/27/07)

So we've basically hit the point of the school year where not much is happening and thus there's nothing really exciting to blog about. On Monday, though, we had something special happen. The Tongan Rugby 7s team was apparently being hosted by the Marist community at school and they came to assembly to do a little performance for us. While the performance was interesting, the most interesting (and funny) part of their dance was when everyone was coming up to them taking pictures with their camera phones. The bane of digital photography has officially arrived in Samoa! It was getting so out of control that people were just taking out phones and shoes to simulate them using a camera phone. Modern technology has it's blessings and its curses – digital phone cameras are in the curse category.

As for an update on my classes, I really enjoy teaching my Year 13 classes but like I've said before a part of the reason is simply because they know how I work and it doesn't feel like pulling teeth when I'm trying to teach them and get information out of them. As for my Year 12 students, they are getting better. It seems that after I gave them their first quiz about a week ago I have definitely had improved class participation and energy which is a boost for me. So we're making progress – but I kind of ran into a little snag with one of my students yesterday. We were going over the Print Screen key and I asked the students to point out where it was on their keyboard. I went over to one of my boy students and asked him to point to the key on the keyboard (which had it spelled out 'Print Screen'). He just kept looking at the monitor and I couldn't figure out what was going wrong…even if students don't understand a lot of English, they usually understand the difference between the keyboard and the monitor. So after pointing out what the keyboard was, I asked him again to point to the Print Screen key and he basically kept pointing at any key other then the print screen one. This was a little fishy to me so after class I took him aside once everyone left and asked if he could understand English and if he knew what was going on in class – he said no to both. So basically I have a student in class who can't read what I'm writing and thus can't understand it…and he's in a Year 12 class (in the states, that would be a high school senior).

This is a sad state of affairs because I can't slow the kids down to help this one student (and odds are there are at least a few more in my classes I don't know about) and he's going to suffer because he's basically been pushed through the educational system. It's consider a dishonor (in some cases) for the family when a student is held back a grade and sometimes the parents just move the student to a school that will move them up to the next grade. So in order to keep the students school fees we have to push them through the grades, whether they deserve to or not. It's just a disservice to the students that's an unfortunate fact of life.

Now to end on a lighter note, while I am the head of the department, a computer teacher and a computer tech…unofficially, I wear hats for a few more subjects. It seems that a lot of the times I become a biology/chemistry teacher (teaching how bits are like atoms), geography (talking about time zones on the computer and where computers come from), a bit of history and English (defining words the students haven't heard before). You never realize how much knowledge you have until you try to transfer that knowledge to someone who doesn't have it. I don't know if I've said it before but in the states we're lucky that we take up 4 time zones as a country which makes it so much easier for us to understand the concept. Here folks can go their whole lives without ever crossing a time zone (i.e. go to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji or Tonga). Ah well, a th-th-th-that's all folks!

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