musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Shan School Session


While I was in Shan State last month, I had time to teach one day at the primary school in Tat Ein village, just a few kilometers east of Nyaungshwe. I was actually prepared to teach more than a single day, but for some reason the school was closed for two days during the middle of the week when I arrived. But when the schedule gets juggled like that, the kids make up the lost day later. In this case they had classes on Saturday and Sunday that week.



Once again, the children were a joy to teach. Their smiles and enthusiasm always make each lesson a fun experience. But damn, does it get loud in that room! They have four classes going on at once — even though they only have two teachers this term to handle all the grades — and there are no walls between the classrooms, so with the other teachers yelling and the students shouting back responses (it’s the typical “rote method” of learning so often found in Asian classrooms) I sometimes found myself drowned out by the wall of competing noise.




I employed my usual arsenal of goofy activities and games, getting the kids out of their seats and giving them some sort of reason to speak English language words. One activity prompted them to say “the same” or “not the same” when looking at two photos or drawings, some of which were similar but not actually the same. For one class (I taught one group in the morning and a different bunch in the afternoon) I also trotted out my trusty old animal game, one which forces the students to “act out” a certain animal without speaking the name of the critter. I show them a drawing of the animal and then they have to “be” that animal and let the other students guess what they are. Always a riot!




I also brought some children’s books, a combination of Disney cartoon classics and Dr. Seuss stuff, to read to the students. They enjoyed these books in the past and they were a hit this time too. I even noticed some novice monks at the monastery looking through one of the books one afternoon during a separate visit. They can’t read everything in the books yet, but they love the silly illustrations! And hopefully, that will motivate them to read more.










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