Our school has a cool program in the village primary school where our students can go and teach short classes in English, math, and Arabic a few times a week. Here, they gain a little perspective about what it's like to be a teacher and how much work it is to prepare lessons, grade papers, and write tests.
One day, I accompanied the village teachers and sat in on their classes. This is what I saw.
"Learn Today, Teach Tomorrow," painted on the wall in Somali.
Welcome to the village school.
There is no playground, just this pile of dirt.
But the kids manage to find ways to entertain themselves between classes.
Excited in English class.
And paying attention in Arabic class.
Two good friends.
Looking out the window.
The school principal comes to chime in. I should say that he has not been paid in nearly four months.
I should also say that our village teachers were not the only ones who gained some perspective. Sure, I complain about not having books to work out of, but at least I can go to my nice, comfortable office and find materials on the internet. At least our floors are clean, and we have real classroom decorations instead of broken furniture in the back. Also, I do not have to go four months without being paid.
And finally, I don't have to hit my students. At a later date, I came back to the school, and had to substitute teach in the English class, because the regular teacher was sick. When one little boy misbehaved, a little girl made a motion that I should hit him to get him back in line. All I did was shake my head dumbly, and went on with my lesson. For these kids, this, all of it, is normal.
I learned today. Now I have to teach tomorrow.