The past week has seen me partake in a very humbling experience. The charity Caring for Cambodia (CFC) has a true commitment to furthering the skills and knowledge of the teachers in its schools. Teachers regularly have between 34- 54 students in a class with very little resources to draw on. The CFC charity is working hard to move the curriculum forward, this is done by teachers from a number of Singapore schools heading to Siem Reap to work with teachers on planning and implementing lessons.
Cambodia has its own curriculum and the purpose of us going is not to impose our own curriculum on them but to review their documents and help them to plan creative and innovative lessons. Traditionally it is very much a ‘chalk and talk’ session for every classroom.
For me, I was given the challenge of implementing 3 lessons on pollution to year 4 teachers. My grade buddy Kayte and I spent time before the trip looking through their text book and exploring the objectives to prepare 3 lessons. Introducing new concepts such as questioning, predicting and writing up results was only going to add to the challenge.
Lesson 1 was very much an introduction to water with students working in small groups to brainstorm 4 ways water is used within their village or local area.
Lesson 2 posed our biggest challenge – Filtration. This is a concept that traditionally students saw a picture of the process in a text book and were told that water can be filtered! Always conscious to only use products that can be sourced locally and at little cost we felt this was an achievable lesson with plastic bottles, stones, gravel and sand all readily available. The teachers in our group were excited at the prospect that children could put the experiment together and witness first hand science in action.
Lesson 3 was an opportunity to look at the sterilisation process. Heating the water to ensure bacteria is eliminated.
The lesson preparation and planning took 2 days, with teachers encouraged to put their own spin on the lessons according to the children in their class. The most rewarding part of the trip is spending the day being driven to the different schools to watch the teachers implement the lesson. The teachers are very proud of their classrooms and enjoy demonstrating their new found skills.
With no modern technology, electricity that works sporadically and minimal resources the efforts by CFC and all the teachers from Singapore impact greatly on the lives of all Cambodians. There is nothing more rewarding then working in partnership with fellow educators and watching creative lessons unfold whilst seeing the minds of young children open up to the world around them.
I’m excited about next years teacher training visit already. Here’s to caring, here’s to Cambodia.