Monday, 4 August 2014

Day 11- The children

As all teachers will know the best bit of the job is always the interaction with the children. Planning, preparation, assessment are all things you have to do but never will a lesson go exactly as planned because the children's responses are always different, unexpected and original.

Today I have had a day interacting more with the children and it has been a delight. I started with breakfast at Swotha Cafe (the "not quite an English" breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, butter, yak cheese and a dubious sausage that I could not eat) then walked to the school. I joined the teachers in the library and was allocated to class 5. the first lesson was Nepali so I had time to observe the children. They are the oldest in the school and, just like home, many of them pushing adolescence so there was a little more attitude from them. They copied out the tricky words from the story they had read then copied the picture.

After this was science but the teacher didn't arrive. The children told me they were studying "matter" (solids, liquids and gases to you and me) and so I decided to be proactive and get teaching. After requesting a chalk pen to write on the blackboard I drew 3 circles and challenged the children to fill them with examples of solids, liquids and gases. They amused me greatly when coming up with liquids by mentioning alcohol, whisky, rakshi and beer! However, this was less amusing later when I found out many of them have parents with alcohol difficulties. The children then copied the work into their books and I asked them to add two more examples of their own. This they found really difficult and needed a lot of prompting. The teacher hovered at the doorway but he is shy and didn't want to come in.

Then it was English and I had an activity planned on calligrams - words written to mimc their meanings, BIG for example. This went really well and the children seemed to enjoy it. The teacher also had a go and we talked about how this approach can be used with new vocabulary and also for displays. 

After maths - tortuous fraction simplifications - and social studies where they were talking about being Nepalese it was lunch time. I spent the first part in the library with two teachers sharing their daal and tea and chatting. I showed them pictures of my family and they think Paul is very handsome! I then dashed upstairs to the family home for daal bhat with vegetable curry followed by mango and curd, then back down for the afternoon.

This week is "sports" week. I've put it into quotation marks as there is no outside space, no sports facilities or equipment other than a couple of racquets, and no space inside. Sports week was a chance for the children to play games together and for the teachers to join in. I was taught how to play carom board - a little like snooker but you flick the discs with your fingers - and tigers and goats which I won and lost about equal amounts. Having the time to chat to the children and interact with them was really special and i have a very very enjoyable afternoon. 
Carom Board

Catching up on homework.


At the end of the afternoon we went outside to play musical chairs. You have to look at the background in the picture to get an idea of the only place they have to play games and add to this the stench where the flooding on Saturday has washed unimaginable things down to the school. The teacher stood in the middle and the music was a tambourine beat but the children loved it and were very good! Who knew it was such an international game!!

Musical Chairs - look carefully at the background.

Taken by one of the children.

I signed out and had a chat with Rudha in the shop before asking if i could use a computer but as it was load shedding there was not one available. There is not enough electricity in the KTM Valley so a system of rolling power outages, known as load shedding, operates 24 hours a day, usually for 2 blocks of anything up to 8 hours or so twice a day. In the apartment we have solar panels and battery backup but have to be careful that when it is load shedding time we do not use too much electricity. In the school they do have battery backup and all the classes have a single low energy lightbulb so when the main strip lights go off one child stands on the desks to switch the lightbulb on. When the mains power comes back on the children and teachers all do a sort of puja to give thanks and then the low energy bulb is switched off. It's a fact of life here. Most people do have some sort of battery backup but the unpredictable supply is obviously a huge problem.

As I couldn't print what i wanted to I walked slowly back to the shops opposite the apartment and bought some water and a treat of a Snickers bar (rather melted but it was lovely!). I then went to the Swotha Kiosk for a cup of Ilam tea while reading and relaxing for an hour. Then it was time to return to the apartment and to write the blog. I'm planning to go out for something to eat later but it is pouring with rain again and I left my cape in Sushil's car! I think I may have to go and search for an umbrella.

1) The large landslide you may have seen on the news has happened in Eastern Nepal about 75 miles from KTM. At least 10 people are confirmed dead with over 150 missing and not much hope of their recovery. The dam of slipped mud and rock has blocked the river and also the road between Nepal and Tibet and a large lake has built up behind it. This is causing much concern for villages both by the river which are being swamped by the lake and also the fear that the unstable mound will slip further and quickly release the built up water causing catastrophic flooding further down the river in both Nepal and India. The army have blasted 3 small channels to drain the lake slowly but all villagers living downstream have been evacuated to higher ground and are not allowed back to their homes. This has also knocked out 3 power stations so the electricity supply is even more strained than normal. I am safe in KTM, away from the area and the flood risk but obviously concerned for people in the region. My thoughts and prayers are with them and I just pray the dam holds.

2) Thank you all for your comments. It means a great deal to log on and read them. I appreciate you all. x


  1. Having just spoken to you Jane I think you are in need of a good night's sleep. The work you are doing is fantastic and remember you can't move a mountain on your own.However, little by little is the key. If you can establish circle time then I think you will have given the teachers a great tool for being able to help the children. We all think you are doing really well and we are so proud of you.. Lots of love Mum and Dad xx

  2. It's such a shame that the children don't have much space to play outside, well done for diving into a science lesson, it sounds like you're enjoying yourself.