Thursday, July 16, 2015

Facilitating and firecrackers: working in childrens' centres in La Paz

I'm now (somehow) at the end of my fourth week in La Paz. I want to tell you a bit more about the work I have been doing in the childrens' centres. I help in a community action point session once a week and teach a lesson once a week as well as helping in the kitchen twice a week. I enjoy all of these things, but the lessons my group teaches ourselves are particularly rewarding. In these sessions we actually don't so much teach but 'facilitate' the students' learning which means we provide the means with which they can take ownership of their own learning. This sounds a bit complicated but pretty much means that whilst we give prompts, we try to get the children to do most of the talking and thinking so that they engage with the lesson and topic, which in our classes is human rights. Last week we started by trying to find out how much the children already knew about the topic, which was actually not very much. But after doing an activity where they had to match up cards on which we had written out and mixed up parts of the declaration of human rights as well as doing a picture search activity, they seemed to have a better idea. This week, we talked about discrimination and whether or not they had experienced it in their lives and then wrote up a set of class rules, which we will follow in our upcoming classes, that outline how the students should treat each other in school. We also make sure to leave time for games!

This work is not without it's challenges. For one thing, I have very little experience of teaching let alone planning lessons on some pretty heavy topics. Also, for both our teaching session and the session in which we help out, the children don't have to attend (as it's not school but a centre they can go to afterwards) and often they don't really want to. Last week we had three girls in our lesson and this week we had two as it's also the winter holidays at the moment. We also had a child setting off firecrackers in one of our first community action point sessions! That being said, seeing the children enjoy a class and the fact that they are often very excited to see us makes up for any hiccups. 

I have included some pictures below: the first one is on the walk to one of our centres, which is along a very dusty road, lined with brick factories in which some of the children work.The next pictures are of a walk we went on with some children from another one of our centres last friday. We walked for about 4 hours across a desert-like landscape to get to a small town called Achocalla which has a small lake which the children rowed boats on. The walk was beautiful but very long and very hot! 


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