How to talk as a teacher in Meru

The students here are very used to learning by rote. If I were to teach by rote in the States, the kids would just tune out. Unlike in the States, when these kids repeat what their teacher says, they often use that to remember. I’ve seen teachers ask kids to repeat things over and over, until everybody eventually is giving the right answer.

But the method of questioning is a specific one. If I were to ask, “On what string does the A section of Twinkle start?” then I would probably have no answers. The kids would all just start looking at the floor. Teachers often talk in fill-in-the-blank style. For example, I’ve found the best way to get them to participate and learn goes something like this:

Me: The A Section of Twinkle starts on the…
Them, in unison: A string
Me: Again, the A section starts on the…
Them: A string
Me: The B section of Twinkle starts on the…
Some say A string, some say E string
Me: Eh? The B section of Twinkle starts on the…?
More of them say E string
Me: Ehhhh? The B section starts on the…???
All: E string
Me: Good. The B section starts on the…
All: E string
Me: And the A section starts on the…
Some say E, some say A.
Me: The A section starts on the…
All: A string

I learned this from watching Boniface. So he’s learning from me, and I’m learning from him.

This entry was posted in 2nd Kenya trip (Jun-Aug 2011), Boniface, Kenyan students. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to talk as a teacher in Meru

  1. sweetdeal says:

    That is fascinating. I think I saw a documentary where some American teachers were returning to this form of teaching–with success. Suzuki ran the experiment in a school where the teacher would wait until EVERYONE had the correct answers and understood the concept before they went on. In the beginning of the year, they were way behind. At the end of the year they soared ahead. Fascinating observations which open up fascinating questions.

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