ADPP – Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo
EPF – Escola de Professores do Futuro
GOLDEN CUT REPORT
by Rodrigo Morais
EPF – Escola de Professores do Futuro
GOLDEN CUT REPORT
by Rodrigo Morais
My main activity at ADPP Chimoio is to integrate the teaching staff in Project II of EPF-Escola de Professores do Futuro, both training the prospective teachers and coaching the trainer staff.
The activity of teaching includes the regular classes along with others activities such as monitoring the DmM online studies, assisting the future teachers in extra-class activities, monitoring the teaching practices of future teachers in training at primary schools, participation in the student assessment “jury”, monitoring the student’s care of their machambas and involving in other project activities.
My first week classes were taught based on what was prepared during the period of Specialization. Topics included the Cognitive Learning Theory (Ausubel), the study of texts written by Brazilian authors (Rubem Alves, Moacir Gadotti and Paulo Freire) and foreign authors (Edgar Morin), and topics related to Portuguese Grammar.
During my training at IICD-Michigan, I have not bothered to prepare an excessive number of classes since I’ve intended to “feel out” the project upon arriving and then finding out what would be the real students' needs. At that time I believed I could draw up some more profound lessons about the Educational system in Mozambique, since I would come at a time close to the prospective's graduation.
And, in fact, the reality showed me that I should change most of my original plans. The students – almost the teachers as well – have many limitations. They came to the training course with a lot of disabilities, especially the lack of spelling skills and the difficulty to interpret texts despite their simplicity. Therefore, it makes the very production of texts almost impossible. The trained teacher goes on to teach yet unable to do the basics, which is to enter in the classroom and teach the subjects.
On conversations with my project leader, other teachers and the students themselves, I realized that there is not the encouragement to reading in the Mozambican schools. Students go through all the basic classes without contact with written texts. What follows is the failure of interpretation and production of texts and the lack of knowledge about the spelling and the grammar rules. And, in a sort of “domino effect”, it decreases the quality of teaching in all disciplines, since the teachers give classes without understanding the contents. I personally witnessed a situation in which, during Teaching Practice (práticas pedagógicas), I attended a class where the future teacher tried to explain some biology matter and, at the end of the class, when I approached him to give my feedback, I realized he had not understood the matter that he had taught. He hadn’t been able to interpret the content in the biology book.
In my first conversation with the students in the project I heard a great yearning for new teaching methods and lesson plans. But in the course of the conversation, I noticed that they get lost in the many teaching methods and attribute this as the cause for their inability to teach. The fact of the matter is that, with the difficulty to read and the "lack of intimacy" with the words, future teachers can not understand the subject they teach and can not explain scientific concepts of even low complexity. Any lesson plan or teaching method in the universe couldn't allow a good class without the teacher having previously understood and mastered the subject he/she teaches.
Since I began classes with the future teachers, I have heard from some of them that the teacher is a person who needs to educate himself daily, while engaged in the profession. I agreed immediately and it is not something I have doubted at some point in my life. This daily instruction, however, assumes the ability to read. If the teacher does not have the habit of reading, I do not see how one's education could occur on this daily basis.
I have noted the fact that schools in the region have the basic infrastructure lacking. All the schools I have encountered display the lack of chairs, desks and even chalk. Most of them also lacks teachers. And with all these absences, it is not surprising the lack of books in their libraries. Some communities in the region are utilizing the ADPP Pedagogical Workshop as the only place where books and computers can be found. I could go on and describe the plight of the people's limited access to knowledge in areas I have visited in the province of Manica.
But worse than the lack of books is the ignorance by the teacher about the importance of the act of reading. As said by a beautiful Adélia Prado's poem: "I don’t want a knife or cheese. I want the hunger". The eating act does not begin with the cheese, as the reading act does not begin with the book. If there is not hunger, the cheese is useless. Once there is hunger, the hungry man searches until he finds the cheese. Without books, but with the desire by the teacher to encourage reading, the problem is still there, but it has visible solutions. One can, with some effort, raise money or find another way to acquire books, or even the teacher can use fax-similes in order to promote and develop the reading. When the teacher does not have the habit of reading, we could assume he/she doesn’t understand the importance of it. So even if we transfer to his/her school the Library of Harvard University, the books will not be touched by the students, since the teacher does not encourage it to happen.
For this reason, I plotted as a goal in my classes to encourage reading and writing. Thus, I believe we can solve both problems: spelling errors and difficulty to read. Solving the problem of reading, begins a relationship with the words in which the student learns the correct ways of writing because they see the words in the texts they read.
After talking with my project leader, we came to the conclusion that it would be better to figure a way out to add reading classes to the curriculum of EPF. The fact is, among all existing assessments, reading is not included in the classes schedule. So, I wrote up a small project in order to start a reading plan which allows the evaluation by the teacher (or a panel of teachers) and which can be incorporated into the school year as another learning module.
Upon arriving at the college, I had set as a goal for my footprint the installation of a Poetry Workshop (or Poetry Club), where we could discuss poetry theory and also the analysis of Mozambicans poems and poets as well as universal poets. However, the reality has shown differently, the need is for the students to treat basic reading and writing skills. Poetry reading requires more than simply reading and understanding of a text. The reader must be able to interpret inferences and figures of speech, study writing styles and other matters. So I’m using my Tuesday class – which would be for poetry – to work on these fundamental issues of reading and writing. From now on, I will pursue as a footprint achievement the matter of adding reading to the EPF curriculum as I mentioned before. I just cannot give a weekly structure of my tasks, cause it’s flexible: depends on the schedule I receive weekly from my project leader, which has the weekly classes. Currently, I have the “práticas pedagógicas” at Monday and Wednesday and classes on Tuesday night, Thursday and Friday.
During my classes, an approach started regarding to the issue of the economic development of Mozambique. My time in Mozambique is very short, only 6 months. It is not enough time to produce a work that has longer lasting results. So I turned my attention to change the perspective of students (future teachers) to be themselves the agents of social transformation. Only people can liberate themselves, correctly according to Humana’s Charter. So, I started in the classroom to reflect on the role of the teacher as an agent of social transformation.
The first step was the screening of the film Freedom Writers, followed by a short discussion about the approach taken by the character of the film which can be applied to the Mozambican reality. What actions should be done by teachers that have a social impact of changing? What is the teacher's role in the country’s development? Is the act of teaching limited to a classroom?
The second step was to ask the students to produce a text about the community’s reality of each one of them. The goal was to make them reflect upon their community and think about actions that can be made in the daily teaching practice.
My interest in education as an instrument of social transformation guided my choice towards EPF and is based on the fact that I believe that education provides a revolution in ways of life and daily actions. The Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal said that nothing is in the political environment of a country that has not been beforehand in their literature. It is from the imagination formed that you get your ideas and ideals. Therefore I believe that education is the revolution the world needs. It is urgent to open people's eyes to the reality in which they live. Not teaching them to complain or blame others for their own problems, but making them realize that it is possible an effective change of life. As Shakespeare said, in Julius Caesar: “men at the same time are masters of their fates, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”.
The work of an educator is, in a certain sense, unfair. Working with education, we have no criteria to evaluate the results. We work with the unpredictable, at least in a short time frame. We can give notes, evaluate, complete reports, graduate students, but real results may not be noted immediately. A seed planted in the education act does not produce pumpkins that can be harvested in 6 months. Educating is like planting oaks.
At the same time, education is a radiating process, which goes in concentric circles: you educate ten whom educates one hundred whom educates one thousand and so forth. We need to create a tradition of education because, otherwise, the education will not “happen”. If you do not have the tradition, there is no love for culture and knowledge. Education must be very serious and begins with a group which radiates this value.
Finally, another work started with my team leader Bobby and students of the project is the Bobby's Band. No, it cannot be called a work. It’s a pleasure. We played songs written mostly by the students themselves, with local rhythms and themes that are mainly about AIDS, Education, etc. The band's goal is to spread messages of development and humanity through music. Therefore, we are taking care of organizing a sufficient repertoire and an schedule to move throughout the community. Because the issues addressed in our musics and the quality for which the group has managed to get, the band has sparked interest in the community of Chimoio and almost every weekend we have been invited to perform.
My project leaders are professor Domingos and Bobby. I have always heard from other DI's that the work on the project very much depends on the project leader. A good project leader facilitates the action and doors are opened. That is why I can say I’m very lucky to have been placed in the project II of EPF Chimoio. Both project leaders, since I started to work, have shown to be people concerned about Education in Mozambique, who believe in teacher training and the value of the DI's. They are always working to improve the project, as well as available for conversations, suggestions and contributions. As for me, I hope to meet the expectations of these two friends I found in Mozambique.
Rodrigo Almeida Morais