Posted by: kam6761 | August 11, 2008

Drawing to a Close

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So, exams are marked and all that’s left to do is survive these next few days of teachers asking me to do things that aren’t my responsibility.

As far as exams go, it was okay. There are two parts to the exam– one that is reading comprehension and grammar and stuff, and the other that is writing a paper responding to a given topic. The first paper went exceedingly well (the averages were close to 65%, which is a B and considered really good), while the second paper was quite a failure. I’m not sure if my kids are just awful at reading directions or if somehow their comprehension is much lower than I think and they simply don’t understand the instructions, but it was terrible. And the worst part is that I’m not allowed to give them ANY credit if they’re not completely on topic. One of the topics was “You go on holiday to America. Write about what you see, who you meet, and how you feel.” Some learners for some reason wrote as if they WERE American kids living in America, but still wrote what they saw and how they felt in America. I wasn’t SUPPOSED to give any credit for this, but I tried to knock down their score without really hurting their marks if their work was good. The problem is that I got into a BIG fight with my colleague about the second paper, so I wanted to make sure I marked them “as per the National Standard.”

The fight broke out over the fact that I wrote my own exam for my kids, even though exams are supposed to be set at the circuit level. This was apparently the worst thing I could have done EVER, even though I had the approval of my head of department. This colleague also happens to be the one who beats kids mercilessly and always finds something to fight with everyone about.* He began ranting about how the circuit needs to be “on the same standard” and how if all teachers did what I did the system would collapse. He then accused me of doing it to “favor my learners,” which was true, but only in the sense that the other exam that had been set for them was absolutely terrible and pretty much was designed to have them fail (one option asked them to write a letter describing the structure of a house. Keep in mind that these kids have pretty much only been learning English for 2 years… and they live in HUTS built of sticks and grass. DESCRIBE THE STRUCTURE OF A HOUSE?!?!). I was pretty angry and ended up saying some things I shouldn’t have, including my opinions on the “standards of the circuit” and how my learners were better off without them, as well as telling him to stop whining. This guy is a member of the Herero tribe, which is SUPER male dominated, and I don’t think a female had ever spoken to him like that. I kind of expected him to throw himself into a rage and threaten my physical safety, but he just seemed confused by how assertive I was being and backed off, also obviously offended by my remarks about the “standards.” I laid low for a few days after this, and I don’t think my colleagues hate me, but I certainly wouldn’t say they’re as warm towards me as usual. Oh well.

I guess the important thing is that I don’t really rely on my colleagues for happiness or emotional well-being, but rather depend on Dan and the wonderful kids that fill our days. One of my kids was eating a lemon last week (they are lemons, but I think they’re not fully ripe– they’re green and not quite as sour) and I mentioned that they were good. Over the next several days I received four giant lemons as well as every learner coming to offer me a slice of theirs as they ate it. The thing is that I think they are good, but more as for flavor in a beverage than as a snack. I guess I was just saying it to make conversation, and since have spent my days trying not to cringe as I chew giant pieces of the sour fruit.

Our water is out, but I feel like that pretty much goes without saying anymore. This past term seems like it’s been a 50/50 chance that we’ll have water on any given day, and we often go stretches of several days at a time without it. This has made for some interesting practices including reusing dish water and using disgusting oshana water for flushing our toilet. The latter is made even worse by the fact that we occasionally then have a fish swimming around in our toilet. It’s day 5 of absolutely no water at this point, and I haven’t showered since Thursday. Needless to say, I’m sure I smell really fantastic.

And that’s all, folks! It’s only four more days until we leave for our trip to Malawi, where we’ll be hanging out in Cape Maclear and Blantyre. We’re going to be beach bums and pretty much not do anything but eat and relax, which is totally what I need at this point. Then we come back to hang out WITH MY PARENTS!!!!! They’ll be here on August 26th and I’m SO excited!!

* This being said, I still feel strangely conflicted about him. Despite his obvious drawbacks as a moral human being, he is the only teacher at my school that seems to actually care if the kids learn and spends a lot of his personal time organizing things for the learners, such as sports activities and even a tour for the learners to see other part of Namibia. So despite thinking he’s a huge jerk, I somehow still respect him in a way.

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Responses

  1. hmm…. that teacher seems like quite the load to handle. BUT, it’s interesting at the end how you say that he’s the only one who DOES seem dedicted to helping his learners…learn. veeeery interesting.

    i love how they gave you lemons. my parents have this story on how lauren first wanted to try a lemon when she was a baby, and how when she tasted it she just lurched back and made the most disgusted face. i guess that’s what you’re trying to NOT do! 🙂

  2. Oh my, sounds like you had a real set to with this man. I am sure he hasn’t met up with the likes of you before. Good for you for sticking up for yourself. Why would he prepare an exam to have the children fail? Sounds weird to me but the whole system sounds weird. I hope things selle down.
    Stopped at Mom’s Sunday and yesterday. She is getting ready for her trip to Africa and also getting Kissy ready for Temple. Lots of activity. I think your Mom is 2 people rolled into one, she just rolls along and gets things done. I know you will be waiting anxiously for your parents visit.
    Enjoy your time at the beach. I know you will be in heaven with hot water and good food to have once again.

  3. settle down that is. TYPO


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