Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ohneanghing Community Learning Centre House 2 in progress - what is a good teacher?

House 2 and the playground of the Community Learning Centre is in progress, and in fact, nearing completion.  The colourful outside wall murals are getting done.  Solar panels are already on the roof, ready to be installed.  Today the 16 people taking the Teacher Development Course on Service-Learning came to visit.  The 16 came from PolyU, Baptist U, Peking U and May Foundation.  They spoke with the students from PolyU and U of Maryland who are working on the Community Learning Center.  

Furniture designed for STEM lessons are being made, as well as the equipment for the playground,  The rudimentary seesaw has an interesting genesis.  Initially the students found a video on the making of such a seesaw and tried to make one.  Their initially design was not stable.  We gave them some suggestions but they insisted on doing it their way.  When their product proved unstable, I stepped in and insisted that they change to a better design.  Eventually they came up with a much improved design.  As a teacher, how much should we prescribe the design of a project?  How much room should we give the students to experiment with?  When the students struggle and even fail, and eventually learni to do it right, they learn so much more than when they just follow instructions and get everything right.  With service-learning, however, we have to deliver a usable product in a limited amount of time.  How do we balance between these considerations?  It is a learning experience for the teacher as much as the students.  When you strike the right balance, it is particularly gratifying.  But the students’ view is often different from the teachers'.  Sometimes I feel a good teacher is one who can guide the students so subtlety and unobtrusively that the students feel they are learning successfully on their own.  

Many of the children, for whom we are building the learning centre and the playground, are helping to sand the furniture, level the ground, and anything we let them help with.  I hope they feel they have a hand in building their own learning and fun space.  

It seems they are enjoying it as much as we do. 

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