June 11th – Depth over Distance

By Naomi Crisp

Critical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship

Critical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship

Today was an awesome day of curriculum development. We started the morning off with Dr. Stonebanks with us again guiding the process and pitching in a few ideas (that he stole from my mind). Everyone was working well and enjoying the process of creative lesson planning. We were all so impressed with each others ideas and naturally wanting to adopt them in our own classrooms. It is an amazing process to observe as well as be a part of. Seeing individual faces as they think of a great lesson or they hear a group member’s suggestion and their mind forms a picture of it is just awesome. It is great to see teachers so excited about their profession!  Dr. Stonebanks was unable to come in the afternoon but the work ploughed on. I wouldn’t have thought I would get so excited about curriculum development but I can’t wait to do more! The critical thinking and creativity that go hand in hand with this process is enticing and always asking for more. I can’t express how grateful I am to be here and doing this project. We managed to finish the bases of 4 unit plans which brings us to half of the year. Tomorrow I will only be spending the first hour with the team as I will  then be working with Dr. Stonebanks on creating a template in order to be able put the units in the PLC on LEARN so that the professionals in the field who are part of the Praxis Malawi professional learning community can view them and offer feedback and suggestions. Needless to say I cannot wait for tomorrow.

This evening I lay in my room listening to music and thinking about the consistent questions that have been running through my head about my place here. After seeing our work today and how involved Thomas, Cynthia (pre-service Malawian teachers) as well as Francis (our organizer for our advance work) all are in the project I feel that we are not out of place developing the curriculum here. I have come to the conclusion that it is no different than going up to Cree territory and teaching there. It is a place and culture I don’t know and have never been exposed to in my own country yet I wouldn’t doubt myself or others for teaching up north. If you do advance work and gain an understanding of the people and geography/history of the area and you’re willing to adapt, you can teach. We have not come to Malawi to disrespect the system here, but rather enhance education opportunities for a rural area. The people have been so welcoming of the project and I think it is time that I actually accept their welcome with a Malawian handshake and “zikomo”.

1 thought on “June 11th – Depth over Distance

  1. Susan van Gelder

    You are fortunate to experience working in a group of motivated teachers. Too often teachers work alone – doing all their own planning. You have experienced the heady feel of bouncing ideas off each other, of seeing how much more gets accomplished when working with colleagues and or seeing how your own ideas are so much better when you have others to critique and build on them. As to feeling out of place, you gave a good example of what happens here in Quebec where teachers are sent up to northern communities – I think there is probably more imposition of curriculum there than what is happening in Malawi. You each come with strengths, whether in curriculum design, in the QEP or in understanding the culture of Malawi. Together you make a stronger team.


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