For a morning, we popped into a local school to observe some lessons and learn more about education in Vanuatu. (New resolution: go to a school on every country I visit).
Classes of 40. Everyone studies maths up to the end of school (age 19). Classes are mixed, and work is the same for all students. External exams throughout secondary education (following a New Zealand exam board).
Kids are kids everywhere (we found this with the teenagers, and Gretchen found this with the 7 year olds). Atmosphere relaxed and friendly as we walked through the school. No teachers running for the photocopier, no over-boisterous students. Maybe a lesson starts five minutes late, or the students don’t turn up for lesson at all (as happened with one lesson I waited for, for 40 minutes).
“you take all the terms in the first bracket, and you multiply them with all the terms in the…” intones the teacher pleasantly.
“…SECOND BRACKET” choruses the class.
The teachers we saw had really excellent subject knowledge (strong calculus for example), and also said the thing they value most is problem-solving and deep thinking. The students were working through rote exercises. Same tension as in London then.
Does this give the illusion of understanding, or it is a useful way of ensuring the whole class stays focussed? I saw very similar style of delivery in Soweto – is it a fluke, or a consequence of colonial education, or similar for another reason?
Teachers train for three or four years, and were shocked to hear that in England you could have a full timetable straight away.