A day and a month of teaching


I’m still wondering about this “frigid winter weather,” as yesterday was beautiful. Though today is threatening rain.

I’m working with Mr. Eric “the cool one” Diazenza from Congo. I observe his 10th year classes and teach his Foundation classes. It did take me a bit to get the different curriculum methodology of spiral building. As such, I was quite taken back when I saw 10th years doing Sin and Cos. However, there is a constant review of the basics, which I’m finding I can be of some use. Mr. Eric is an amazing teacher. His smile and energy are contagious. One of the first days he was scolding the students about being late with their work or to class and one of the girls said, “Mr. Eric! Mr. Eric, don’t be cross. We cannot see you smile.” It was very sweet. The poor man was completely disarmed.

Teaching is going well. The students do not seem to mind my different style, both in the physical structure of the classroom and the methodology used for teaching. I’m trying to bring in math games from the Exploritorium for the students the finish quickly so that they are engaged and developing their math and critical thinking skills, while giving students that are a little slower time to work out their own problems.

I still fight the feeling of “not doing enough” everyday. Then I kick myself mentally for it. It’s such a Western thing. Metrics and “deep hanging out” are a difficult to marry. I can hear my professor from last semester, Suresh Apavoo, talking about the difficulty he had with coaching managers about doing business within the context of the Indian culture. They wanted rules to follow and perhaps that is where I’m hanging up with marrying those two things. I’m trying to find rules to measure. What did Einstien say, “Forming the question is 80% of the solution.” Are there other ways to measure than the way and things that we measure?  How much time is enough to build relationships where there is free-flowing and honest communication between those involved? I’m rambling. I’ll stop.

It’s been a day and a month, and I feel so very different that the first week(s) I was here. The first weeks were falling in love, now it’s getting to know. There are harder edges to this culture and I’m only beginning to see them. However, knowing my broken parts within me somehow helps me feel, understand, and connect with the broken parts that are part of South African society and LEAP culture. I asked a man at Kaldfaintein (I spell it different every time in hopes of randomly getting it correct eventually) about who he sees as the next generation of leaders because Tutu and Mandela are getting up there in age. He said to me in essence “we are. It is up to us now, to take and build and change.”

I hope all is well back home.


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