CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Ensenada Honda, near town on Culebra
18 18.326' N, 065 17.979' W
Yesterday was my first day at the new job: Algebra teacher for Abbie's School, here in Culebra. I am not sure if it is because I haven't had any regular responsibilities in nearly ten months or simply because I have never taught algebra to a group of pre-high school aged kids, but I had a few butterflies dancing in my stomach leading up to the start of class. However, as usual with me and any form of teaching, once the spotlight was on me I quickly grew comfortable in my role as the instructor.
In the lead photo, you can see the sign that Sheryl and I constructed for my classroom (mentioned in previous blog entries). It expresses the central theme of my teaching philosophy. Considering the vast amounts of information available today, the rate of technological growth, and the fact that most young people will have several different careers though their working lifetime, the best thing we can teach our students is how to learn
. Therefore, whenever the question is posed by an inquiring young mind, "Why do I have to learn this?" The most valid answer, in my opinion, is "In order to learn how to learn."
Since the words sound so much better in Spanish, the sign hanging on the wall of my classroom reads, Para Aprender Cómo Aprender
When considering the construction of the sign, neither Sheryl nor I wanted to shell out any money. Therefore, what you see is a 10-foot long piece of driftwood with letters cut out of the cardboard from used cereal, cracker, and pizza boxes. Cost to us: under $2 for a bottle of Elmer's glue.
I currently have five students (grades 7 - 9), and a sixth will be joining the class next month. As an exercise of introductions, I had the students indicate what types of things they like to do outside of school. The answers ranged from things typical of young people everywhere (like: playing basketball, skateboarding, and spending time on MySpace) to some activities more specific to remote island life (such as: spearfishing and hunting small game in the bush).
From here forward, I will be teaching four days a week. Mondays and Wednesdays I am on from 11:30-12:30 and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 - 2:30. Only 5 hours of class time each week, but (of course) considerable additional time will be required for lecture prep and grading papers. Overall, the commitment is not overwhelming by any standard, but it does mean that we will be staying here in Culebra until at least December 18th (the final day before the holiday break). Sheryl and I decided to commit that far and then evaluate how we feel about moving on vs. staying at that point. In some ways, four months can be a long time. In others ways, it will pass before we know it.
In the meantime, my priorities are likely to shift slightly in favor of the education of the young minds which have been entrusted to me. I will still post blogs when noteworthy events or pictures are in need of sharing (in particular, significant weather events); however, please forgive me if the posts are not as frequent and detailed as you have grown accustomed to in the recent past.