April and May
on Susan Somers (Namibia), 01/Jul/2010 17:32, 34 days ago
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Ooops, I'm falling behind on posting my blogs. I wrote this one at the start of June, but never got around to posting it... but better late than never (as my Dad would say!)It’s been a strange few months. I feel I’ve really settled into a routine and feel totally at home here now yet it’s been anything but a routine in the 7 weeks since Easter.I’ve been busy work wise; my first challenge was the NIED being invited to present at the Mathematics Congress in Swakopmund. This came up before Easter, and when Alina told me that she’d asked, I just casually said “No, problem, sure I’ll help you something on Maths games” It turns out theMaths Congress has become something of a big deal in the Namibian Education world (it was opened by the Minister of Education) so there was alot of hard work to put together a presentation on Maths games in Lower Primary. The presentation went quite well (despite some time issues) and the congressitself was very interesting. It was, in way, gratifying to see the same seem to problem exist at all levels of the Education system and a bit frustrating that there is still little acknowledgement of the vital role lower primary education plays in this. If learners are failing in the upper grades because of a lack of basic mathematical knowledge surely it’s obvious that Maths teaching in the lower grades is the place to start with support?The infamous‘Integrated Planning Manuals’ for Grade 1 and 2 are almost finished (officially) but I think they still need alot of fine tuning. I’ve tried to get actual teachers to try out the schemes/lesson plans to give us some feedback but that hasn’t been very successful. Most of the feedback is justpointing out typos, or tiny errors in semantics, which is helpful but not really comments on how teacher think the content or plans would work (or even if it makes sense to them!) Maybe teachers don’t have the confidence or professional knowledge to comment on them? Some of the Advisory Teachers did send in comments on the content but unfortunately a lot of these showed a lack of understanding of the fundamental concept of integration!Next comes the‘National Training’ and as far as I can work out, this is where Alina and I train the Advisory Teachers on how to using the manuals, and then they go on to train the teachers in their regions. So we’re now working on planning and structuring the training although I’m not sure if I, or the manuals, are ready for this but we’re about to find out!On the lighter side of NIED, the Sports Club, which I’d been hearing about since I arrived suddenly came to life at the end of April to begin training for a competition organised by Ministry of Education where all the Regions (+NIED) compete in Soccer (men only) Netball (women only) and volleyball (mixed). The plan was to train four evenings a weekfor an hour or so (rather than once or twice a week for the whole year which might have helped with commitment and fitness issues!!) and then head off to Keetmanshoop for week for the competitions. So I joined the ladies to play netball (first time I’d even heard of it beyond ‘Home and Away’)which I was told was a very easy to get the hang of (it wasn’t)The‘training’ and organisation of the whole thing was typically haphazard, with a real lack of communication/information, but since I didn’t take it very seriously it didn’t bother me! I went along to get to know some of my colleagues, have a few days away and get a bit of exercise! On these Iwas successful, although NIED didn’t do terrible well in the competitions (the volleyball team was picked randomly minutes before the first match, didn’t do any training and then wondered why they were hopped off!!) The whole thing did allow me to confirm to myself why sport isn’t really ‘mything’!There were quite a few public holidays in May (it’s school holidays for teachers and Learners) so that meant a few long weekends for me. For one I just hung out with Katy and Kev, who were house sitting for the former VSO Namibia director. This turned into a long relaxing lazy 4-day weekend in a Windhoek mansion watching DSTV (a whole series of‘Friends’ and hours of ‘Come Dine With Me’)On the last long weekend in May we decided to get away to Luderitz (a lovely quite little harbour town about 1200km south-west of Windhoek) so we hired a car and hit the road. Althoug Most same Europeans wouldn’t consider driving that distance for a weekend, it doesn’t seem to be an issue in Namibia and we did what should have been a 10 hour journey in about 7 as the roads are so straight and good you find yourself doing 160km without even realising it! We spend our few days visiting a mining ‘ghost-town’, drinking beer/rum while watching the sun set on the coast and eating lots of fish but the highlight of the trip was a catamaran trip out into the south Atlantic. We had fantastic weather and saw penguins, flamingos, 2 different types of Whale (Humpback and Southern Right) and lots of dolphins – we even sailed with a whole school of them for a while. It was fantastic!So between long weekends away or in Windhoek, Sports trips and conferences I’ve hardly been in Okahandja at all this past few weeks. Next week end we’re off for our second Global Educaion weekend in Ngepi (a whole day’s drive north east of here) and then straight to the ‘National Training’ workshop in the Harmony Seminar Centre outside Windhoek for two weeks. Notthat I’m complaining...