How was school?

It’s weird returning to a place to which you are so familiar and yet have been so distant from. Coming back to school for the first time today and even though things look a bit different, it’s all fundamentally the same. The kids are crazy but great, the lessons are challenging but rewarding and everything gives off the same sense of chaos holding together just enough.

 

Today I walked in and saw Teacher Fatima who I worked with for the first three months I came to Egypt in September-December 2007 standing in one of the caravan-like rooms that is used as a classroom. Many kids from that class also saw me, and I got a warm reception back. In the morning I will be a teaching assistant for her class, and in the afternoon for another class. At first there were three other volunteers in the classroom, although two of them quickly realised they were in the wrong one. That’s probably a good thing – not because they wouldn’t have been helpful, but because having four people trying to be teaching assistants has tended to be counter-productive in the class.

 

The first class, slightly surprisingly, was a science class about the ‘chest cage’ and its contents. Something about it didn’t quite fit – especially since it was taught in English, which to me makes it an English lesson no matter how scientific it is. But that’s what it was, and we duly had all the kids repeating the important words like ‘chest cage’ and ‘vertebral column’. Some of it seemed a bit too advanced for kids of that age … I was handed the Red Pen of Power, and went around checking what they had written and marking it. The power!! Most did quite well, although there is a sense that it’s all in the now, and not really committed to long-term memory.

 

The next lesson was about English ‘irrigular’ past simple verbs. You have to keep quiet really if the teacher makes a mistake on the board as you don’t want to undermine their authority. That is the general wisdom. The kids kept attempting to find some logic in how the English words went from ‘write’ to ‘wrote’, ‘find’ to ‘found’ and ‘read’ to ‘read’ but unfortunately, of course, there is none. It must be deadly frustrating …

 

Classes then switched around and I took part in a maths revision class – covering mean, median, mode and range. I had to have a bit of a refresh myself, but once again revelled in the might that resides in the Red Pen of Power. A multiplication test ended the lesson (unless the kids performed to a certain level , no sport for them). Most performed very well, although one kid managed to miss out two of the questions completely.

 

So, sport. Well football is not my forte, but I gave it a good shot. Sandals and the heat did not help but never mind. Didn’t really keep track of scores but someone won most of the time. I think that’s how it works …

One day down, no crazy incidents so far …