29 November 2020 (the correct date this time!)
Global Covid Cases: 62,563,184*
Bitcoin Price: $17,661.80
Gold Price: $1,787.50
ZAR 15.26 = 1US$
Number of Stresemann’s Bristlefront (a bird) known to be left in the wild: 1**
Days until Trump leaves office:
And Diego Maradona passed away this week. RIP.
I now teach a morning and afternoon Grade 6 class of 11-12 year-old boys and girls. Each class has 33 kids. I teach 3 lessons to the morning class, and repeat the same 3 lessons to the afternoon class. Needless to say that my afternoon class gets a far better, and slicker teaching product.
A fair bit has changed since I was in Grade 6, which, in my day, would have been called Standard 4 (possibly even Upper III?). I have racked my brains to try and remember what it was like as an 11-12 year old at school. Truth is can’t I remember much. I remember a lot of dictation, and copying down lots of words written in various colors of chalk on the blackboard. I do none of that now. All of my classes are presented on Powerpoint – which is great, because I love PowerPoint (In China we call them PPT’s – as in PeePeeTees!). I don’t even have a blackboard. I can spend ages updating and formatting old inherited Powerpoints; improving their fonts, updating the images and animation to make them look like slick corporate presentations. How effective they are as a teaching tool is open for debate. Compared to my elementary education there is also a much bigger focus on group communication and group work.
While I do my best to entertain the kids and keep them interested, there is only so much I can expect from them. I absolutely hated Afrikaans as a second language at school, so I can’t expect my kids to think any differently of their second language English classes.
Reading, writing, speaking and especially listening to a teacher speaking in another language is exhausting. Add English grammar to the equation and its little wonder that some kids choose not to work, preferring instead to chat to the person next to them, pass around notes, take their pens apart (springs, and bits of pen are forever flying across the classroom), drill holes into their erasers, or simply put their heads down on the desk and fall asleep.
Trying to explain to a struggling second language leaner that the word “dog” is the “name of a thing”, which is a “noun”, which is the “simple subject” of a “sentence” is not really fair on them. They really just need to know that a dog is a dog which is English for Gǒu 狗. I try to keep it simple.
As for discipline, except for me trying to stop the constant chattering there is very little that I have to do. The kids, for their age, are pretty well behaved, and mischief is largely good natured, never malicious.
I recall my teachers having the authority to kick students out of a classroom without warning. I spent many an English lesson “talking to the birdies” outside in the quad, as Mr Johnson would say. There were times when we had to run laps around a rugby field in full uniform, with our backpacks, if we were all misbehaving in History.
Back in my day kids were shouted at, slapped, pushed and given a good whack by the teachers. Our books and stationery could also, on occasion be thrown liberally across the classroom, by the teacher. I recall one incident where the teacher threw a glue stick at one student and missed, hitting the wrong boy. Those things were pretty normal in a classroom in the 1990’s. Nothing of course when compared to classrooms in previous generations. None of that happens now.
I recently discovered, from my students of course, that the words: “succeed”, “thin”, and “ratio” all sound like naughty Chinese words****. So I try and use them as often as possible in class now. “If you work hard you will all succeed!” I remind the students. This always generates a laugh. If anything at least these will be the three words of English they remember!
****whether it’s Mandarin, Cantonese or another dialect has not been made clear to me.