Wednesday, April 25, 2007

At Last The Lowdown!

Courtyard of St Theresa's School, Chiwembe.

(It is now a month or more since I received a packet from Matt, containing a letter started months before and a book of notes somehow to be translated to this blog. Also included were several snapshots, documents to do with teaching, plus other aids and examples of the children's work. I'll translate this as best I can over the next few posts! - Matt's Dad)

(Extracts from what I take to be Blog Notes - or maybe they've turned again into a letter - dated, to begin, January 20th 2007 - after the Christmas Break.)

.....Altogether, I find my luck on all really serious matters impeccable (is it my outlook or am I just naturally lucky?) and I have not had anything really terrible happen to me yet.....My diet and my sleeping patterns are good enough for me to feel confident of my health.

Entrance to St Theresa's

Overall I am indeed happy to be back here in Chiwembe (Chichiri is simply where we receive our mail). My view of school may have been slightly tinted by the long holiday - the children are the same as all kids and can be the cause of stress like you wouldn't believe! But I honestly have great affection for all of them (even the bastards who call me Mr Mattress!) and the lows are frequently shattered by the adrenalin rush of a successful day or, even, lesson.

The challenge is big and I have realistic doubts if, at this young age, I can be anywhere near as influential as you were with your students, but I am a person of ideas and I am quickly picking up the ability to turn them into reality.

Matt teaching!

I quite literally feel the positive effects of this experience (the bad and the frustrating particularly) and I believe people will see a change in my maturity (if nothing else) when I head back.
Goma watches on as Donal opens a bottle of
Shire Valley pure cane spirit at the house
Thanks to Goma and Mr Penembe I have taken a more serious (adult) organised approach to all things scholastic. I am sure I was too open, enthusiastic and willing to play footie with the pupils in ther first term and it led to me being viewed as a bit of a childish buffoon and an eccentric mzungu. But I am learning quickly and I am fairly well liked by the other teachers, owing to my friendly lively presence in the staffroom and I now know it is time to show them my more serious ambitious side.

My (teaching) code is 07 - chosen of course - and I am now class-teacher along with Mr Amieda, the music teacher, for 4A whom I also take for RE, Drawing and General Studies (which is a bit of science, history and geography mixed together - very good to teach). I also teach RE to Standard 6A and B, General Studies to 3B, Drawing to 4B and Play for Standard 1 and 2 boys. Also SWports for Standard 7A and 7B boys. I'm head of the Wildlife Club too - but that is an absolute farce.
We have Teachers' Guides we must keep to (all of basic spelling mistakes) and although by mid-November (school year is Jan-Dec here) my 4A class knew everything they needed, and were all fed up with revising, I found myself being criticised for teaching them something not in the curriculum.

My next-door neighbour, Sammy with his wife, Dorothy,daughter Joeanne and new son Jude in the grounds of Chiwembe Palace. It is strange not to see Sammy smiling!

(More of this to come! - Matt's Dad)


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