Welcome to my blog! Thoughts, updates, and photos from my 2 years in Peace Corps Guinea.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A New School Year

I know it's been forever and a day since I posted. I've been busy and occasionally sick and just not able to think about blogposts!

But I figure most of you are curious about what I'm up to at site, now that the school year started in October. We actually got off to a pretty fast start. Kids started showing up on the 8th, when it was supposed to start the 4th. And I gave my first real class the 15th and we've been rolling since then! All of the consistent teachers from last year are back, although the other English teacher has been mostly MIA as well as my counterpart (the economics teacher) until November. So I've had a lot of my students from last year and the new 11e kids asking for English classes, and I've had to refuse them.

I am teaching the two "senior" classes, also known as Terminale. I have a social sciences class and an experimental science class. I teach SS English, which is a subject they have to pass on the BAC, their national exam, at the end of the year. I teach SE (sciences experimentales) Physics and English. They have to pass the BAC in Physics, but not in English, so we just have fun in English class.

The two classes couldn't be more different. SE has sixteen kids signed up, and 14 of them show up on a regular basis. When I had review class in the evening on the first week of school, ten of them showed up. Can you imagine American kids doing that? They are curious and hardworking. They like learning English, even though they have so much work to do for their BAC preparation. And they have, well, WE have a LOT of work to do. These kids are supposed to be able to understand vector accelerations based on the derivatives of position and then velocity vectors. They don't even understand what we're drawing when we draw vectors. They still mess up multiplication by zero. They mix up plus signs and multiplication signs in the pythagorean theorem. They can quote me a beautiful definition of angular velocity, but they don't understand what a radian is or how to convert to it. It makes me so angry, because these are smart, interested kids, and they want to learn soooo much, but considering the atrocious mathematical education they've had and the lack of teachers over the years, it's unsurprising that they struggle. These kids are also going to have to take a test in Biology, when there hasn't been a Bio teacher at their school since they were in 11th grade, two years ago. Sometimes I get mad and I have to explain that I'm not mad that they don't know what tangent means, I'm mad at their education system, which fails them and then demands so much of them at the end of their schooling. Last year's physics BAC was mostly a question about interferences fringes created by the young's slit experience. If any of you know what that is and the formulas involved, you took physics in university. And they are just high schoolers! In a developing world country!

*deep breath*

The other class has over 50 registered students, and about 40 of them show up physically, and about 10 of them show up mentally. Passing the SS test is supposedly much easier, since it's essays and some history memorization, but no math or science. So this is where the people who aren't really sure why they are in high school go. Which is unfortunate for the people who really want to go into a social science field like journalism or business or politics. They get pulled down by all these slackers. The students don't listen to me, they don't seem to care about English, and they simply don't respect me. It's frustrating for all sorts of reasons that are different than my SE class. Nonetheless, I feel really bad for the motivated kids in my class, and I'm going to see what I can do to make sure that those kids pass their BAC.

I'm also officially teaching 11e SE in English, although I picked it up last week and then fell unfortunately ill. I'm now better and heading back to site! Apologies on the lack of picture in this post!

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