Saturday, July 07, 2007

Primary School Graduation in Chacala

I visited the primary school in Chacala yesterday with two visitors who are school teachers in the U.S. It was the last day of the school year. There was a lovely graduation ceremony.We toured the two Primary classrooms. Chacala also has a Kinder, and a Telesecundaria for 7th and 8th grades. Telesecundaria seems to be Mexico's answer to cheap education. The kids watch videos of all the subject matter. A kind of para, a monitor, acts a teacher. Exteremely inadequate method of education in my very opinionated opinion. Mexico uses is for indigenous and poor students in rural areas.The two teacher/visitors were as shocked as I was to see a very high-tech (at least to me) piece of equipment in the 4th,5th and 6th grade classroom. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a giant computer screen that you can work on just like a laptop. It projects onto the white board at the front of the room. At least I think that’s what it was. The teacher showed off the equipment and the kids seemed to be very familiar with it.

There are two new teachers (below) as of the middle of the past school year. A definite improvement, according to local gossip. The guy who teaches the older kids has alot of enthusiasm and some computer and technical skills. The woman told my friends she had worked in the the schools in S.F. California. Probably as a para, since she doesn't speak English.
The classroom was a total mess. All the trash for the year was piled along one wall, and all the desks were dragged out onto the playground for the ceremony. But I know, from past observation, that the parents and kids get everything cleaned up. The State provides the building and some equipment, and the parents are responsible for everything else in the rural schools. Water, power, TP, cleaning, trash removeal, painting and reparing the buildings,etc. We also toured the Bibliotecha computer lab. They were six brand new computers, with those large freestanding screens. They looked great, and there were kids at every terminal.As the ceremony began, a bunch of guys were sitting over next to the Bibliotecha, in the shade. When the sixth graders started the flag ceremony, the woman teacher stepped up to the microphone, and insisted that the group of “cool” guys stand up and honor the flag.My bet was they were stunned that someone was calling them on their disrespectful behavior, and they slowly stood up. I doubt it anyone had ever told them to shape up and show respect in years. One of my favorite moments in Chacala.It was really hot and humid, but there was a great turnout. The ceremony included lots of dancing. Including dancing pencils, I think. The kids were just beautiful. And all the little brothers and sisters ran around climbing trees and darting in and out of the dancers.I loved whole morning. After everyone had received their certificates, all the parents, kids, teachers and parents group members and town officials came out in the center of the playground, and shook hands with each other. I love how the children, even three year olds, shake hands when introduced or when greeting an adult.

I personally was dying of the heat, and we walked over to Angeles’s store for cold water. There wasn’t any, so we settled for ice cold Cokes.

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