One of the things I've missed most in Peru has been working with kids. Usually at school I'm teaching Sunday School or observing or teaching in a school and after working full-time over break it was quite a transition for this Ed-major-at-heart to take. But today I went for a second time to Deporte y Vida, an after-school homework help sort of program in one of the poorer districts of Lima, Villa El Salvador. We sit with the kids and help them with whatever homework they have, from math to English to coloring. I love being around the kids and never knowing quite what to expect to do with them. Always a challenge.
It's an interesting and occasionally frustrating view into the Peruvian educational system. It seems to me that there's a lot of assignments that the kids are expected to know how to do without sufficient explanation as well as a fair amount of busy work or copying. Much of the time they want us to just do the work for them or say their parents will do it for them. This goes against every fiber of my teacher-self but it's tough to keep them focused and try to actually help them learn rather than just finish it to be done.
Today I had some success and some not. I felt like the girl I worked with one place value and figuring out values for drawing of squares, rods and units really got it and was doing it by herself at the end. The girl I was trying to help translate from English into Spanish...not so much.
Things I have discovered:
- The kids are way more interested in the lives of the
gringos than they are in their homework. Love lives in particular.
- Mechanical pencils are novelty. Especially if they have an eraser on top. Erasers attached to pencils are an unknown phenomenon.
- Kids don't air kiss. They go right for the cheek. Which results in some nice jelly/dirt/unknown kisses. ;)
- Math seems like it should be straightforward and language-less but it is not. Especially when they use different symbols for division and multiplication and use commas for decimal points. And expect second graders to work with things like the negative square root of 6. Or assign things like below with no instructions:
Major brownie points for anyone who figures those out. The circular ones we got eventually but these remained mysterious.
Hasta la proxima