Education (and other things)

First and foremost, the pictures of Cabo de Gata  are from a ‘trekking’ excursion that we went on with our intercambio group.  You can read more about the park here:  Many famous movies have been filmed at the beaches there.  We ate lunch on the same rock as this scene from Indiana Jones! You can see it in the photos below 🙂

I know I brag about how beautiful the weather is, but have I mentioned the wind?  It’s muy fuerte right now…40 km/hr!  But still, it’s hard to complain.  Oh wait, I have been dying for Caribou.  Not that I don’t drink coffee here, but I miss that convenience!  AND I’m sick of the dogs here.  People only use leashes half the time, and all almost got knocked over while we were rollerblading.  I’ve also seen a dog run and jump into a stranger’s lap at a cafe.  My mom would have a heart attack!  Some people’s perros

***If you are not an educator, I give you permission to stop reading now***

I have to start by sharing something me encanta.   When teacher’s enter the salon, they say “Buenos dias” with a smile and mean it!  They say hello to each other in the halls and personally greet each other.  It makes it a very warm and welcoming place to work.  In between classes all teachers gather in the salon (they don’t have personal offices or private desks), chat and then head off to their next class.  They do not stand in the hall and police the students (this is a public secondary school).  Halls are ruido, filled with screaming, running students, but I have yet to see any problems.  The students stay close to their classrooms and take their seats when they see their teacher coming.  There aren’t tardies or bells signifying the beginning of class.

Classrooms are quite bare.  They consist of desks and usually a chalkboard or (if one’s lucky) a whiteboard.  One classroom I work in recently received an overhead connected to a computer courtesy of the Junta de Andalucia (it is my understanding that all public school receive equal funding from the government).  **Also please note that Andalucia is an autonomous community and is not representative of all of Spain.  Technology is very rarely used (kids have been LOVING my powerpoint presentations) and most lesson plans seem to come directly from the teacher’s guide.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I work in a few different classroom settings…I work in bilingual science and history classes, conversational English classes, and help teachers learn English and plan lessons.  Some teachers are open to my ideas, others just expect me to read text so they can hear an American English accent.  Conversation class is more of just reading answering questions about a given topic.  At times, I wish I had my own classroom.

Teachers here have 16-18 hours of student contact time per week and work an average of 25 hours.  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  They do not have lunch, but do have a 30 minute recreo where we go across the street to a cafe and have cafe y tapas.  During this time, the older students are also allowed outside of the gate and younger students gather in the courtyard.  The only supervision they have are the 2-3 people who make copies, open the gate, keep the keys, and greet people.   Surprisingly, chaos does not ensue.

Students are not so different.  Most are well-behaved, a few don’t pay attention, and some daydream.  I have yet to see any real behavior problems.  Alex has reported seeing kids get sent into the hall, but the worst I have is a child being moved to the front row.  It makes me wonder, what is so different????  The teachers do not have any great presence over the class, nor are there rules or class expectations posted.   I will observe and try to figure this out the remainder of my time here!

Lastly, I have reached star status among the students.  When I am walking to the door in the morning, kids yell out their classroom windows to me (I’m sure their teachers love it).  In the hall, they tap me on the shoulder just to say hi.  When I tried to open the gate the wrong way, I commented to some laughing students, “Cada vez.  No puedo recordar.”  “Ah,” responded a boy I had never seen before, “You are Kira.”  Apparently my accent still isn’t up to par 😉

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2 Responses to Education (and other things)

  1. E-Dawg says:

    Okay I loved this post – so interesting to hear how different things are there – Here is my two cents on a possibility that may contribute – not the only reason, but possibly one of many. Do you thing its a soceital thing? Here we are encouraged, if not rewarded for being out spoken and questionsing socetial norms. Ya know that whole thing of “one person can make a difference” We learn from a young age to question peoples intent and motive. People here do not think that people are kind just because – the kind person must have done something bad or need something from us. Also, there is a feeling of if you are not with me, you are against me – just look at politics, religion, or any other “hot topic” in the us today. There is not a whole lot of middle ground. It is here or there. Perhaps this is not such an undercurrent in Almeria. I saw it the schools all the time where I worked – children talking back to teachers because they didn’t agree with what the teacher had to say, and parents coming in to yell at staff and administration – both questioning intent and accusing the whole – if you are not with me, you are against me idea. So in short I am wondering if it is not the structure, expectations, curriculum that makes the difference, but the attitude of the people that make up the lives of these students….. food for thought I guess 🙂

    It sure sounds like you are having a good time… we sure miss you 🙂 I downloaded Skype but I can’t figure it out LOL! HELP!!!

    Hope to hear your voice soon! Kenna misses Auntie Kiki! (and so does mama!)

    Lots of Love

    The Hamels

    • klfischler says:

      *Please note that I am not an expert on the following.

      I think history and politics may have a lot to do with it. Spain was ruled by dictator Francisco Franco from 1939 to his death in 1975. During that time, education and censorship was directed by the Catholic church (a way to ‘take back’ old Spain). It was supposed to be an attempt at unity. He even outlawed all languages except for Spanish. All autonomous communities were denied their power. Spain did not write its current constitution until 1978, but immediately began trying reinstate liberties and rights.

      A co-worker of mine told me that they do not want to enforce dress codes at schools because it would be too much like Franco’s regime. While the rebellion against Franco is apparent in many aspects of Spanish life, I do wonder if the newer freedoms that people are experiencing still are in the after-shock of the dictatorship, and if these faint waves are being passed down from parents to students…

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