And, it just so happened, it was also the same day that three more teachers arrived from Guatemala City. Oh, and they all have to teach tomorrow, too. And Angela, Jessica, and I thought it was bad not having all of our plans done–these folks don’t even know what plans are! And to add to the confusion, they may all be moving in here in a week, which would stuff 6 people inthea 4-or-5-person Foundation building. But classes must come first–these other things will work themselves out. They always do, Ixtatán style.
Classes start tomorrow for cuarto, quinto, and sexto magisterio; the school is rebelling and not starting básico (primero, segundo, & tercero) until Monday. According to an article today in the Prensa Libre, one of Guatemala’s main newspapers, only 10% of the schools in Guatemala actually started yesterday…the rest are ignoring the Mineduc’s decree and starting on the usual national back-to-school day of January 15. (See: http://www.prensalibre.com/pl/2007/enero/09/160318.html) It doesn’t appear that there will be any governmental repercussions other than to make the rebellious schools end the year on 11/7 instead of 10/31. Why didn’t we rebel, too, especially when no one from the government is really checking on when we start or end? Or when we do anything else, for that matter.
Had the inauguration this afternoon at 2 in the misty, open-air community center–it included speeches by Beth Neville, Chico (the director), Julio (the secretary/assistant director), emcee-ing by last year’s San Mateo Ixtatán princess (Miss San Mateo, if you will), introductions of the teachers, election of the officers in the 2007 PTA, signing of the meeting attendance book by each one (!) of the hundreds of parents and staff in attendance, and–of course!–much excellent marimba music, courtesy of our own–all of the band members hailed from our school, the Centro Comunitario de Educación Yinhatil Nab’en.
Toward the end of the event, I even got a chance to happily stick out like a six-foot-tall sore thumb (sore gringo?) by dancing to the melodies of the marimbistas first with a spritely, agèd woman, and then with the [married] sister of María, the secretary of the Fundación Ixtatán. I’m still not convinced that many Mateanos have much in the way of a rhythmic sense–all of the local marimba songs are clearly in a waltz-esque 3, but if the agèd woman had a sense of the time then she must have been dancing is some incredibly complicated, modern rhythm. 27/13, perhaps? As for Verónica (María’s sister) she was much better, as we managed to float around the floor with a fairly regular 3 against 2. All in all, a fine event.
But now on to the task at hand: figuring out what to teach these kids. What do they know? No idea. Who was the last teacher of the courses I’m teaching? No idea. Have these courses even been given before? No idea. Are there any records? Not that we know of. Who makes up the contents of these courses? Who knows. Why is it that the published contents of my 9th-grade math class are more advanced that the 12th-grade contents? Beats me. Why is it that the 12th-graders’ math class has a 28-page contents packet that contains material from Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Logic, and Probability? Are they supposed to know all of this already? How am I supposed to teach them all of this stuff before their state math exam in May? And why does no one seem to care when I ask how to get a copy of the topics on the state test?! Do they not realize that we clearly shouldn’t trust the contents of the course guide to match with the contents of the test, since out of the six courses I’ve planned, I’ve made five of them up on my own?
So few questions, so many answers.
Strike that, reverse it.