Teaching Tanzanian Style

The schools in Tanzania are quite different the schools in the States. There are no Smartboards, computers, TV’s, dry / erase boards, library, manipulatives  or overhead projectors. Each class might have 2 or 3 posters but for the most part the walls are bare. The have one glue bottle for each class to share and  when they need scissors they check them out from the main office as they have only one set for the whole school to use (they do the same thing for the one set of dictionaries they have). Each class probably has 20 or 30 books they share for independent reading time (my personal classroom has about 350 books plus the library down the hall they can go to anytime to check out a book). This may seem depressing but I tell you that every one of the students at that school loves being there and they are so grateful for what they have.

The teachers become certified after a 6 month program or they could continue on to the two-year program.  Almost all instruction is oral. The students have a composition book for each subject which they use to copy down what the teacher is saying. For English class the teacher will write words on the board and the students will copy them down and draw a picture next to each word. The headmistress has encouraged us to introduce the teachers to more hands-on interactive learning strategies and we have been so welcomed in the classrooms (for all those Prince William County teachers reading this, I did an “Investigations” math lesson on multiplication word problems and I also modeled a Jan Richardson small reading group). The school has stacks of construction paper that was donated years ago but it has never been used because the teachers don’t know how to incorporate into their classroom lessons. We are actually doing a “Foldable” workshop for the faculty later this week to give the teachers some ideas on how to use it.

Another interesting fact about East African schools; every public school gets religion or Christianity instruction. The Kenyan  curriculum states that every school will teach Christian  Education. In Tanzania they get to choose what religion and even denomination class they want to take. The missionary wife we are working with here in Arusha actually goes to a public school once a week to teach a Baptist Christianity class. Even students that have never gone to church will chose this class. I find it quiet interesting that teachers have more FREEDOM to share their beliefs about God here than in the States.  Our Nation has strayed so far. It does make me realize how great they need me in the diverse population of DC.

In addition to teaching in the mornings at the school we are also teaching an adult ESOL (English as a Second Langauge) class in the evening. It has been a real blessing getting to know our adult students. They are so eager to learn! We have been having each class memorize a verse from a Psalm in English. Every day they come to class with the verse ready to recite and by the end of the week my class will know all of Psalm 23 in English. Tonight I am bring stuff to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and they are going to have to give me directions in English on how to make it. They are quite excited about eating them afterwards. Another bonus is that the three of us are learning quit a bit of Swahili. 🙂


4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the update! I enjoyed reading it and it helps me to know how to better pray for you as you minister!

  2. What a blessing to read your written words! I have a friend & his team in Uganda right now for a month, & they have been visiting high schools & sharing God’s Word. When I was in high school in PA, my homeroom teacher asked me to read God’s word each day before the school day began. This was done in every homeroom class. There were about 20 of us who would carry our Bibles at Central Bucks High School. God is being a blessing through your lives in Tanzania! Love & prayers, Deb 🙂

  3. Hey…thanks for this latest blog. Quite enjoyable to find out about teaching there. The lack of supplies is just so amazing to me and yes, sad.
    The enthusiasm for everyone to so eagerly participate in learning and education is so cool…wish it happened here.
    I really like the idea of allowing students to choose a religion class to study. That would be pretty good way to handle it here perhaps.
    Enjoy those PB&J sandwiches. We miss you! Keep up the blog whenever you can. I know you all are pretty busy and pretty tired.

  4. I’m not sure why, but this post brought tears to my eyes. I’d like to think it was The Holy Spirit moving in me, helping me to visualize how grateful your students are who have so little, and who suffer from want but nonetheless rejoice, giving God the Glory, and eagerly look forward to learning each day. “The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and righteousness..” and I know that this is the force working in the lives of these chidren. The post breaks my heart when I read it, but I am not left hopeless, becuase I have seen the vitality and true joy in the hearts of kenyan children that I passed on the road when I was in Kenya. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it. The work you are doing there sounds..unbelievable.

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