The worldwide Augustana College experience


We just finished 5 days in Kingston, Jamaica. During this time, I was in the Alpha Primary school where I had the opportunity to spend 4 days with 28 sweet, lovely sixth graders. I had a wonderful time getting to know all of these children. It was an interesting experience getting to know these children in the midst of their studying for the GSAT, which is a very important exam for grade six students in Jamaica. The test is high-stakes because if they do not pass, there is a good chance that they will not be able to continue their schooling, so they will be out of school by age 12 if they do not do well. The students in my class spent most of the time taking practice exams and doing rote exercises to prepare for the GSAT. Caroline and I were in the same room, and our last day we had the opportunity to teach a math lesson. Since these students are sixth graders-the oldest students I have ever taught-the math lesson was a little more advanced than lessons I am used to teaching. We taught a lesson on simple interest, which is something Caroline had to give me a refresher on. The lesson went pretty well, but there were some definite differences between schools in the United States and Jamaica that were noticeable even in our one lesson. We are not very used to teaching a lesson using a more executive teaching style, whereas in Jamaica that is very standard even in elementary school. The students are very eager to participate but it was also difficult to get the students quiet and encourage focus on the lesson because there were so many other noises present around us from the other neighboring classrooms and from outside. In American classrooms we are accustomed to having more privacy in our classrooms and less outside noises and distractions. Despite these issues, we went away from the lesson with the majority of the class understanding the formula and usage, which was the goal! It was a wonderful experience getting to know these children. They asked many questions about the United States and Illinois, specifically, and it was clear that the students had many preconceived notions about life in the United States. I was asked if I knew a celebrity, if I rode a bus to school, if I spoke Spanish, and if there were any crocodiles where I lived, as well as many other questions. I’m going to miss those children and I’m very grateful for this enlightening experience.

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