3 interns have been supporting 5 children to participate in an online reading programme at home. These children live in the same housing block and a significant part of this endeavour has been troubleshooting whenever the digital tools and access we provided were not working optimally. Our interns realised that often, it was not faulty equipment but the lack of confidence navigating the digital space. Nonetheless, they are much heartened by the efforts our members are making to explore and embrace this space.
A father who was not digitally literate, humbly welcomed our interns to show his 7-year-old son how to log onto an online session. After which, he wrote the password on a whiteboard at home and ensured that the child was punctual for the online reading session. With his father’s encouragement, the boy developed much confidence and enjoyed the learning experience. His father noticed this and when he learned that a neighbour’s child was accessing the same session on a mobile phone, he immediately invited that boy to attend the session at his home. He had seen the benefits of online learning and did not want other children to miss out.
The children attending this online reading programme are aged from 4 to 8 years old and so they have been receiving some support from family members and our interns to participate meaningfully. Those supporting the children have told us that by doing so, they feel like they are learning too. When children are not cooperating, they try to learn the reason why and this is often because they are not engaged meaningfully or understanding what is being said to them.
As I reflected on this, it seemed like to facilitate or enable children’s learning, we would be more successful if we set off to learn alongside them rather than to teach. If we can learn to see what’s hindering their ability and desire to learn, we will also see how we may get a “lesson” across.
Today is Teachers’ Day and as we express our appreciation to all in the service of education, I think the best way of honouring those who have taught us is to recognise that there is a teacher within ourselves. Like the father who welcomed the assistance of our interns, his actions conveyed the value of care and the importance of self-belief. He taught his son that it is alright that one does not know as long as one is humble enough to keep trying to learn. When we can remember this lesson for ourselves and to convey it to all around us, we are teachers.
Happy Teachers Day.
*Education does not make us educable. It is our awareness of being unfinished that makes us educable. ― Paulo Freire*