Every thursday now I will be taking a number 56 matatu into Kawangware to teach at a small school. This is the same place where I visited a few weeks ago, fell in love with the kids, and decided to bring some of the same arts/geography teaching I am doing in Mathare to this place as well. My first week was reminiscent of what my kids from Mathare were like when I first arrived; self conscious, unable to problem solve independently, unable to free their minds to imagine creatively. I think this will change…but slowly. The children I teach are from grades 1 to 4, over 40 at one time, and they are very crammed in together in a small space which is just next tot he younger classes and only divided by a wooden panel. The children are excited to apply themselves to the teachings I prepare, only there are many distractions and space is hard to do things that I would normally do in Mathare.
Last week, in order to introduce the curriculum and analyze their level of understanding, I taught, sung, chanted, and made up hand motions about the continents. We discussed the difference between a continent and a country and then learned the 7 continents through song and motions. Then I passed out a paper that challenged the children to imagine their own country. This is when I got the blank stares! Just like Mathare, these children are used to a different teaching style which is based on repetition and memorization. It was difficult for them to think of their own answers to my questions since it all was based on their creative imagination and not on a right verses wrong answer. I asked questions like “What would you name your country?” “What would the people eat?” “What would the houses be built out of?” ect. Anyways, for the first exercise, we got a lot of the same answers and many answered about Kenya, rather than their own imaginary place. But even so, they are bright kids and I am already enjoying getting to know their 40 -some very different and unique personalities.
This week I decided to teach on Australia, as our first continent, since I am teaching the same in Mathare. However, the Kawangware group’s lesson will be a little less art and a little more academic just because of how many children their are and how little space their is. But even with the way I will be teaching, I will be drawing out creativity and imagination on purpose. This time the children learned about 9 different animals from Australia and how these animals live and act. We passes pictures around and then after a worksheet we had a coloring page full of the Australian animals. AT the end I passed out their new passport booklets and they were all so happy to receive these! Like Mathare, I want these kids to know that they have room to dream and make plans for their future. I want them to see possibility and opportunity as something exciting to work hard to attain. So of course I want them to know what a passport is and what other places their are in the world… I want to prepare them before these kids travel the world!