(Wednesday, January 22
PS The books have arrived)
After Paula finished her PLU business in the morning she came over to the house to give me a driving lesson. I gave her husband a tour of the house, I offered him something to drink, I needed to show her something—almost anything to delay the start of my lesson. We both laughed when I realized what I was doing, so I decided to just take the plunge and get in the car. I am not a fearful person but for some reason the thought of driving a manual car on the left hand side of the road scares me. Lindsey wanted to come along for the ride, plus she wanted to record some of the driving on the flip camera. As I backed out of the driveway, Paula told me to turn onto the main road—Lindsey’s comment was, “I didn’t think we were going onto main roads.” We drove on the main roads around our house, filled the car up with gas, and even drove one from one entrance to the next exit on the B1 (a highway). Even though I hadn’t driven a gearshift car for over 30 years that part was easy—I never stalled the car and decided learning to shift in a car is like riding a bicycle—once you learn you just do it. Using the mirrors, STAYING on the left hand side, and looking the right direction is a bit trickier. I only drove a bit on the wrong side after turning out of the gas station. So I will continue to practice and make sure I always look both ways, just to be safe. I did find it easier when I saw a car turning ahead of me to visualize my next steps. So more practice tomorrow and through the weekend.
In the evening I had dinner with my Namibia dean Charmaine, Juanita whose time is Head of Department, Early Childhood Education, and Pam who is a faculty member in Inclusive Education. We spent 2.5 hours together talking about education, families and plans for the year. The university in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders is very involved in developing an Educational Policy for the country. There are five broad categories including professional development, assessment, and leadership. I will be closely involved with the professional development piece, specifically a teacher induction policy along with a mentor program designed to train teachers who work with developing teachers. Listening to education talk at dinner got me thinking about the different patterns that exist among educational institutions. Government schools became fully funded last year—that meant parents didn’t have to pay for books and “stationery” (pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks…). In the past families paid school fees and the amount charged really depended on location. Township schools charged very little per family while other schools could charged more, which meant those schools had more resources. In order to reduce the discrepancy among schools the Ministry of Education changed that model. The transition to this new way of funding part of education creates challenges for administrator, teachers and families. Schools that charged high fees don’t have the same amount of money while other schools have a lot more. Both those situations create unique challenges and it was interesting listening to educators who are also parents listen to the different ways schools and families are coping. School just started last week, and so in the second year of implementation schools are still discovering ways to maximize resources. So in addition to the specifics of my work here, I will be able to observe the changes in schooling in Namibia. Interacting with new people is always exciting and dinner provided me with more insight into the reality of education and gave me the time to interact with three educators who are passionate about having education as a tool to support the children of Namibia’s growth and development.