Friday, October 31, 2014

Participatory Learning

October 31, 2014 (Halloween and Reformation Day!) 

I have finally begun teaching my first Trauma Healing Class.  It took time to get off the ground-partly because I didn't personally know some of the first people I invited.  They also didn't know what the class was about.  After weeks of delay and two false starts, I went to Plan B. 


 I am now getting my feet wet with the students I teach at the Lutheran School for Theological and Biblical Training here in GB.  There are more students that I had planned for (18), but they are eager and happy to participate.  And, I know them somewhat since I have been teaching a two-hour class once a week for a month or so.


The format of the Trauma Healing class would not surprise people in the US.  We start each lesson with a story that sets the scene for the days learning.  Then, work is done with a combination of small and large group discussions.  We chart what is said with a secretary for the small groups or on the board for large groups work.

This style of teaching is, well, foreign here.  Students usually sit in traditional rows and don’t participate much.  They are more likely to copy text from the board as the teacher writes. In my classes, I had already been asking them questions and having them all participate, but it is still new to them.  They laugh when I ask them to agree/disagree with an answer with thumbs up/down.  They laugh, but they do it and I can see who understands.

Talking about difficult topics in groups or as a class is getting better, but slowly.  I sometimes have to challenge them to get them started.  One early question was how their local culture views God.  The first responses were “correct” Christian views.  When I asked about God viewed as Nature, they began to open up.  At a couple of points there was even lively discussion.  Someone would make a statement which provoked a spate of heated discussion in Gbaya. They would reach some consensus and then make a statement in French.  (I am still struggling with my Gbaya-learning and am nowhere near able to teach the class in that language.  I am glad they can use it among themselves, though, as needed.)

We have completed Lessons 1 and 2.  I look forward to watching the participation grow and expand as the course continues. 

Water Tower Update
I got some pictures of the water tower work from Elie SANDA (Administrator for ECLA).  Look at the before pictures (inside and outside the tower) and then the finished product with the workers posing in front.  I have much more confidence about the quality of the water coming into my house! (I will still filter what I drink, but the filter should have less work to do.)

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