|This is the building that holds the 3 younger classes.|
|saying something wise and inspiring, I'm sure. HA!|
Paulin, the director of La Casa Grande, is beside me here.
|sitting with the principal in the seats of honour|
Derek and I also had the privilege of handing out some awards to the top students. This is a difference from Canadian schools to Benin ones, and one that Zoe really appreciated. In Benin, students don't automatically move on to the next grade like they do now in Canada. They have to work hard to pass. So at the end-of-year fête, the "passers" were announced for each class, with cheers around the room. Then each teacher gave gifts to the top 3 students from each class. Zoe really liked this idea too, and thought we should do this in Canada. She thought it would make students try harder.
|the principal giving an award to Gildas|
|giving an award to Eugenie|
I came away wondering: how could we have the best mix of this "everyone wins" philosophy + healthy competition? How can we have schools and teachers that impact children and motivate them to work hard to learn?
The principal at L'École Les Leaders asked me to comment on ways that their school could improve. He wondered what they could learn from Canadian schools. I blathered on a bit about multiple intelligences, and active learning, and the various learning styles and bla bla bla, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking of the question the other way around: what can we learn from schools in Benin?
This year the parent committee at our local school in Canada was fundraising to provide a Smart board (interactive white boards) in every classroom. I compared this with the items that are on the teachers' wish list at this school in Benin: a library of French books, a paved terrace for playing games, and more classrooms to expand the school.
Do we really need a Smart board in every classroom? Are iPads in each room really improving the level of learning? Or do they just make us think we're smarter because we have these cool tools? Are students more motivated, more inspired to learn? Learning more? Understanding how to better access information?
It strikes me that these things are a bit hard to measure, and I'm not saying these tools are bad - I love to use them! But just because we have the tools, doesn't necessarily mean we know how to best use them to maximize the learning in the classroom. I think that sometimes they can be a distraction rather than a help.
I left this school in Benin feeling in awe of teachers who can use basic materials like a chalkboard, slates, and chalk to teach their students for an entire day. And inspired to do what I can to help them realize their dreams.
Zoe and Eden created a video for you to see what school is like in Benin:
ecole les leaders from Rebecca Seiling on Vimeo.