Our First Workshop

December 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Our first workshop in Bogalay

We are in the Inya Lake hotel in Yangon, having just returned from our first three day teacher training workshop in Bogalay sponsored by Nargis Library Recovery. Everyone agrees that it went really well. Gayle Holmes taught with Sue assisting. We met Keith and Gayle in Bangkok a few years ago. Gayle is a master teacher from Australia and has been training teachers in Sue’s Indian slum schools for the last few years. Keith is an extremely practical person who can fix or build anything. He has lived many years with aborigines in the most violent place on earth outside of a war zone. He has also lived for a time “off the grid”, using no money, growing, building or trading for everything he and Gayle needed. I’m hoping for his advice and help as we develop Opportunity Village in Thailand.

Two student volunteers from international schools in Yangon, Htet Thiha Zaw and Thaw Phone Myat, went with us to translate and help with logistics. They were great. All the teachers understood everything and got a lot out of out first workshop. It’s good to know we will not be needing any professional translators.

The Bogalay Library

The workshop was at a library a ten minute walk down the same street as our hotel. Nargis Library has previously supplied books to this library on several occasions. We had the entire second floor which was great for 25 teachers planned to be in the workshop. We ended up with 35, so it was a bit tight but worked out OK.

I had thought we would have some monks, who teach elementary students in the temple schools, but instead a number of “laymen” lady teachers who also teach in the temple schools came. Once the workshop started I could see why. Buddhist monks cannot touch women. They can’t even touch anything a woman is also touching. Nearly all the other teachers in Myanmar are women, and it would have been impossible to avoid inappropriate contact during the various workshop activities. Teachers working in World Vision and public schools came In addition to the monastery teachers.

No way can you buy materials when you make $50 per month. Our teachers learn to make them from materials we provide

Since Nargis Library is sponsoring the workshop, it was appropriate that the basic thing being taught was how to read a book and get everything it has to offer. Using children’s books with pictures and a few words per page Gayle showed activities to stimulate thinking in both smarter and less capable students, and make learning hands on and interactive. Children’s books were the basis for literacy games, dramas, crafts and discussions aimed at making students think about the book . . . and beyond the book. Participants were excited that could be so much fun. The story characters, good and bad, were related to people a child encounters in real life.

Activities included making puppets of the book characters, re-writing the ending of a book, and teachers contructing from scratch a book to be used in their classroom. These were repeated using different story books, so that teachers could practice skills useful with any children’s book avaliable in the library.

Returning to our hotel after a hard day’s work

Like a lot of important knowledge, much of what Gayle teaches seems pretty obvious once you think about it. Still, it is very different from the teaching methods used here now, but you could see the lights go on in the teachers as they listened and participated. They were really getting it.

With all our worldly goods on a bicycle, we’re ready at the pier to leave Bogalay

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