#19 – Day 2 of Math Camp

It’s going even better than I had hoped.  Yesterday 15  form 4’s, today 25, with several people indicating they will be bringing their children tomorrow.  Catherine sent 2 of her LB ladies to ask about it for their children, one a form 2 the other form 4.  Last year we had 50 form 4’s at the end.  The room was crammed.  .

Catherine’s daughter, Laura, has come as promised to teach form 1.  She needed to go to Nairobi today to get something from her school, but she told her mother she would teach first, because “my students need me.”  She went to Nairobi afterwards.  Laura and I had a long talk in the afternoon yesterday, in which I suggested she might consider taking up teaching as a career.  She’s a very caring person with good people skills, and I’ve wondered why she’d chosen a career crunching numbers.  “You’ll never get rich teaching but you will have a very rich life.” Only time will tell how she will find a way to encompass all her many qualities and skills, but she’s very bright. She’ll figure it out.  Look at her mom!

Benjamin Macanda, who teaches chemistry and physics, came at 1 to teach the form 4’s.  All 25 stayed!!!  I was amazed. He’s a sweet man, quiet and soft spoken. Lydia tells me he was an excellent teacher.  From the looks on the faces of the students as they left, I believe it.  They looked very happy for what they are learning. Since math and science are the courses that bring down the scores so much, I think this is going to be a very significant experience for them.  Tomorrow we will invite the form 3’s to join the class.  I wish I’d thought of that sooner.  He tells me that the curriculums for those 2 years mesh very well and he will make sure the form 3’s are not left behind.

In the meantime, it has just occurred to me that now that Laura is doing form 1 math, Margaret, who taught it yesterday is now free to teach biology in the afternoon.  I think she’ll like that.  We had discussed it previously, then it slipped from my mind when she was needed for math.

For my part, I am enjoying the teaching very much.  The students are enjoying being in mixed classes.  Today I told them about a time in the early 1990’s when there was a push to have girls high schools—ostensibly because girls were more timid to participate in class with boys present.  In general, I didn’t see that, but maybe I was just unconscious. So I asked my students to write anonymously what they thought about it.  A few girls thought they’d like it, but most didn’t think it necessary and some said an adamant NO!  The boys were decidedly opposed.  One guy, maybe more, I forget, said “We need the girls in the class to keep us civilized!” When I said that the girl clapped and the boys yelled, YES!!!!  They all laughed.  They like learning together.

So far I’ve felt quite energized and have had no trouble teaching 3 hours straight, even standing on concrete floors.  There is something about the energy of teenagers that I absorb! 

The mornings have been gloriously beautiful, skies clear and blue and warm enough to teach in a short-sleeved shirt.  As the day progresses, the sky begins to cloud and today by 4:15 it began to rain.  It was just a sprinkle at first, but now at 5:45 it is pourng.  This is in stark contrast to previous years when by the end of July the rains had completely ended and the whole area was a dust bowl. I think the rainy evenings are good, particularly, married to the sunny days.  Kenya has had some areas of drought and famine, so perhaps if harvests are good around here, food can be sent to those areas of hunger. 

Lydia called me last night from Maasai Mara, just ecstatic about the first evening, during which they’d seen lions, many elephants, cheetahs (very rare), hippos, buffalos and many members of the deer family.   This morning they were to go out again, return for breakfast and rest, then go out again tonight. 

This has been a bit of a stressful year as she has had to undo many of the things Ruth put in place, sack some incompetent or non-performing staff and arrange attitude adjustments for others.  As I’ve written before, she’s doing a great job, but it hasn’t been a piece of cake.  That’s why J, N and I decided to send her on the safari with them.  She needed something to lift her up and keep her going. I think it’s working!

John will return tomorrow, J and N on Thursday, and the kitchen will again be bursting at the seams.  Margaret, Mary and Tylon are much quieter and while it’s nice to have some calm, too much calm is too quiet. 

We’re looking forward to the ETW reunion on Saturday and the Mji reunion on Sunday.  I’ve been waiting for the delivery of the sheep which I’ve purchased for the Mji event. The boys do the slaughtering (I absent myself from that particular scene), but it is a natural part of their lives here.  They love the ritual and the repeat of all we’ve done in years past.  Since Mji was closed 3 (?) years ago, this reunion has become really important in keeping the sense of family, which is so important to kids growing up without much of a biological family.  Some have relatives they are close to, but many have none or none they are close to.  They love getting together, but to my mind it’s deeper than that.

Leave a Reply