Thursday, September 06, 2007

Techniques for better teaching

Amy and Freda, two wonderful teacher trainers, are back at St Jude's again. They have become regulars at the school, as they work with the teachers to introduce new curricula and new teaching methods.

In a recent blog post, Amy describes a demonstration lesson she gave to a Standard 5 class, to model the concept of artifacts as representations of culture.

Amy used a classic lesson, with photos of cups from different cultures and times in history. She said,

The children explored the photos in small groups, drew inferences about the cultures from the photos, and discussed. The higher level thinking was running all over the classroom, and their inferences were stunningly well-informed and insightful.

Then, they created a cup of their own to represent something about themselves and their culture. Typical of children their age, we had many sports cups, hearts and butterflies, names and ages decorating cups around the room.

Each of these processes was completely new to the children, and the joyful enthusiasm for the task, with no concern about "right and wrong" (a real issue in schools in this part of the world) let me know that they are ready and anxious to take on big ideas and big thinking at a moment's notice. Hoping the teachers who observed it uses the lesson as an example of how to raise the bar for learning, engage students actively, and produce big thinkers in the process. Fun day!

The School of St Jude does a whole lot more than give a basic education to poor children. It is building a network of teaching competency that gives these bright kids an excellent education. They will grow up with a wide view of the world, and will have the skills to think deeply about issues and problems.

The School of St Jude will educate hundreds of children, and that will make a massive difference to the whole community of northern Tanzania – and the country as a whole.

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Anonymous said...

I would agree with techniques your school are using to teach because only through students participation in thinking will enable them to develop good reasoning, understanding skills that lack in many public schools. if you show them a way to think in three dimension levels you will be giving them power to conquer the problems they face in their daily lives and performance at school will quadruple. I am electronic engineering student currently in UK and I would not mind lending my expertise in computer programming to create online programs to assist your students, i have a website which am not using at the moment i can turn it to be a training website that will only be used by your students at all levels.

Gillian said...

Hello Anon... that sounds like an interesting possibility. And very generous of you. Perhaps we could discuss it by email? You could email me at

gillyblogger [at] tirralirra [dot] com