The worldwide Augustana College experience

Journal #2: Kingston and Teaching

For the past couple of days, we have been in Kingston, observing at the Alpha schools. The first couple of days, I was observing a Grade 5 classroom. It was an interesting experience to see a different education system than what I am use to. In the class, there were 10 boys and 24 girls, for a total of 34 kids in a classroom that was probably half the size of an American classroom. They sat in desks, two to a bench. It was a tight fit for all of the students plus the teacher and her desk. However, all the students were still required to pay attention and participate with the class. They did a lot of rote learning because that is really all they had room for. One day, however, the students were working on contractions, such as can’t and cannot. To practice this concept, the teacher passed out strips of paper that had either the contraction or the long form of the word. The students had to find their partner and then did a call and response to a rhythm. In theory, this would have worked very well, but the students did not seem to get what they were doing or did not her what they were suppose to do. Instead of taking 10 minutes to get through this activity, it took closer to 30. I was also confused because the teacher kept leaving her classroom unattended or get distracted because her daughter kept popping in to ask for different items. It was very distracting to me but I am just an observer so maybe the kids are used to these distractions and can continue with what they are doing? I really do not know.

The last two days, I was able to switch to the Alpha Boys School to help with the music department. I enjoyed being able to teach some lessons and conduct a small ensemble that included both the boys from the school and Augie students. It was difficult not being a band person but having to teach a clarinet lessons. This experience helped me to think outside the box in order to still be able to teach the student something. While the boys were wonderful, it was frustrating dealing with the administration. There were so many people who were suppose to be charge but I do not know if they have the boys interest at heart or their own agendas to get further in life. This is such an iconic program for Jamaica and I hope that it can continue for years to come, but, at this rate, I worry that it will lose its reputation.

One of the observations I made at both the primary school and the Boy’s School is that kids are the same no matter what country you are in. When the teacher left the classroom at the primary school, the students started to get out of their seats and talk with one another. However, when some one spotted the teacher coming back, they all ran back to their seats and quieted down. This is something that you would see at an American school, heck I did that when I was in elementary school. At the Boy’s School, the boys just liked to jam with one another in between classes and joke around. For having a very different school system, it was fun to see the kids acting similar in different countries.

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