Yesterday I had the privilege of going back to school. The first part of my morning landed me in 8th grade where I studied volcanoes and then “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Soon after that I was transferred to 1st grade where we studied greater than and less than. Math has never been my strong point, so I was only mildly embarrassed when I read the math sentence backwards. I discovered 1st graders are genuinely kind and didn’t mock me. From 1st grade I quickly progressed to 5th grade where we spent an hour talking about the Industrial Revolution and Andrew Jackson. I thought it quite interesting, a bit amusing and a tad sad when the Korean kids exclaimed Jackson’s greatness at some points, his villainy at others and called him “our president.” I spent only an hour in Grade 5 before winding up in the Headmaster’s office. Thankfully that was planned before I wound up at school yesterday.
So, what did I learn? Well a few things . . .
1. Being a Non-American while following an American curriculum with an American teacher can lead to interesting points of identification. I know from experience it’s difficult to always make the necessary distinctions when teaching multi-national high school students. I’m sure it’s even harder at an elementary level.
2. I was not cut out to teach little kids. Those first graders were adorable. I’m sure if you look up “adorable” in the dictionary their picture will be there. I was so impressed with the patience of their teacher and her wakefulness. Moving at that pace on a daily basis while trying to communicate important concepts would have me fighting sleep regularly.
3. Workbooks can’t be relied on. I’m a fairly intelligent person; I couldn’t discern all the right answers on the volcano worksheet because the information was ambiguous. (Really—I was good at Earth Science back in the day.)
4. Kids need to be taught a little Boolean Logic. It would make their on-line searches much more efficient.
5. There are a lot of amazing teachers who have given up good positions in their home countries to raise their own salaries, move overseas, and provide a good American education for expatriate families.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Gustavo Curado