Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Stand up when I say the F word"

PHOTO: Japanese volunteer Toru with the donated Soroban to all Vava'u primary schools.

An activity during teacher planning week in Tonga, here was the instruction: "Stand up when I say the F word."

What is first thing that comes to your mind? Really, this is a primary school so get your head out of the gutter! lol. FAKA-ilifia, FAKA-tonga, Faka-lelei etc. The Tongan language is very unique. Believe it or not, this really happened in our workshop the other day and it just caught me off guard and thought "is this a trick a question?"

PHOTO: Teachers paying attention at one of the teacher workshops.

The Ministry of Tonga is coming out with a BRAND NEW syllabus for this academic year. It has been delayed for quite some time now, but I literally have a hard copy of the new English syllabus for the primary school. It focuses on student centered learning, which is a fairly new concept in Tonga. Teachers in the past are used to writing the equations on the board and expect students to just take it all in. It lacked attention in checking if students really understood the lesson. The head teacher gave an example with a cartoon. It went something like this:

Person 1: "I taught my dog how to whistle."

Person 2: "I thought your dog could whistle."

Person 1: "I didn't say he learned how to whistle."

HALLELUJAH! The speaker pretty much summarized the "Tongan" methods of teaching in the past years. They are really pushing for education reforms across the entire spectrum. It is quite revolutionary. The teachers all practiced writing lessons plans and activities that really gets the students involved with the lessons. We will see how it turns out as the changes starts to reform the entire Tongan educational system.

On a completely different note, I had an opportunity to eva (go around/hangout) at Talihau beach the other day with some friends. It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed a nice kai tunu (barbecue). Check it out if your in the area. It is accessible via causeway from Vava'u lahi. Approximately a 20 minute drive from Neiafu.

PHOTOS: Talihau beach in Vava'u. Faka'ofo'ofa!

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