With the fresh morning air, I woke up earlier this morning. I prepared breakfast for my elder sister and me. Actually, it was cooler in the early morning than I thought it would be.
I went to observe the Yangon training at 8 am after having a shower. I bought some bread for lunch from a shop beside the road. When I arrived there, it was around 8:24 am and I was the first to arrive at the class today. Thus, I sat at the entrance of the building and waited for others. The class is suppose to start at 9 and finish at 1 pm. There were only four participants at 9 am including me. Finally, we started the class with 11 students at 9:20 am. The trainer warned the trainees that they would not succeed this training and would not gain certificates if they were absent four classes (16 hours in total). She checked the students’ attendance and started the class.
In the beginning of the class, she conveyed ineffective teaching styles of the government schools in Myanmar. These styles stop and kill the creativities of the students. Besides, there are no production stages in rote learning. The government schools even threaten students psychologically. As I grew up in such a remote area of the second poorest state in Myanmar, I crammed all my lessons by rote. Teachers used public humiliation; sticks made of bamboo or cane; jumping in the class many times as punishment. This happens most often in rural regions. It produces a fear of teachers and going to school in the majority of students. However, the motto at every government school is: “The students must be happy at schools and clever.”
Let me give a real story of a boy from our village. He really wanted to be an artist. His drawing was astonishing and showed his imagination clearly. He always got first prize in art class. But, he dropped out of school and worked farming with his father. There were neither teachers nor parents to help his talents emerge; therefore his desire waned and he became used to a life of drudgery. It’s all about depth of poverty over a society or a country. Not having enough money scares all parents so parents force their children to focus only on their studies and to get a degree to become an official at a government ministry. Being a public servant has security for their future; even after their death. Survival is more imperative than anything else for every living being.
I have never heard of Multiple Intelligence until 2014. That means I did not know how we or students learnt the best in their own ways and had learning preferences. The trainer started the class by reading the story called “The Lion and The Mouse.” She manifested the style of teaching at government school by sitting at the front of the class, looking at the book all the time and did not show any contact to the students. Then, she questioned us how we felt about the lesson and how we could transform it to be attractive and interesting for the children.
Secondly, she asked us “Do you want to sing a song, my students?” tenderly. She took a book out of her bag and showed us in which there were some colored pictures with two sentences on a page. She very often looked at us and we were immersed in the lesson completely. Some participants sang songs; some demonstrated with their body gesture how the lion was sleeping and how the mouse ran across the lion. The trainer also tracked the sentences with her hand as the story goes through. We were really pleased with the lesson.
After the lesson we had to brainstorm and enlisted what we did before the lesson and during learning. Then, as second part of her plans she showed us some pictures with colors on it. It was about a story of a hunter, a rabbit and a young boy. They all lived in the woods. The hunter was hunting the rabbit and the rabbit was asking for help from the young boy to avoid from the hunter’s danger. She asked us if we would like to sing a song about them. The aim was reading a story to the children. The trainer instructed us to make a circle and stand up. She was standing in the middle of us and we used body gestures as she sang. After that, we all sang the same song together. The attractive engaged part drew our attention to the reading quickly and helped us to immerse in the activity. All trainees seemed grateful for the lesson.
NEH Local Teacher Trainee
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