This morning started with some sad news. One of the teachers I work with hurt his foot and the doctor has ordered him off it for the whole week. He teaches five sections of entrepreneurship (each an hour and a half long) so that means that five of my classes are automatically cancelled this week. It’s a real shame too because his kids are far behind. I may go a few times to try to help some of the groups develop their products.
For those of you that are unaware of the Small Business Development Program in Peace Corps Nicaragua, we partner with high school entrepreneurship teachers and train them and help them teach their classes. As part of this class, there is a series of small business competitions at the end of the school year where the kids have to bring and present a product that they have developed during the school year. Unfortunately, some of my students (they actually work in groups of five or so) are having trouble thinking of creative products. However, I have some students with some good ideas. One group wants to make a pre-made mix for coconut bread. Another has the idea to make some sort of clothes for dogs. However, other groups range in inspiration from having absolutely no idea to hair gel or glue. Not that creative.
With my planning session with the teacher wiped off the books this morning, that left me only to contemplate where I would watch USA vs. Ghana this afternoon. I asked Lauren, one of the other Volunteers in León, what she was going to do, but she didn’t know because she teaches a community English class for young kids on her block on Monday afternoons. Luckily, I came up with the brilliant idea to make the theme of day soccer and teach the kids about soccer in English, while we watched the match. It turned out to be an excellent idea, and the kids, as well as Lauren and I, loved it.
That’s a shame about the lessons being cancelled. Is there a rule saying you can’t hold the class without the teacher present?
To what extend can you help your students with their ideas? Could you suggest the jelly idea from your last school?
The football class looks and sounds fun!!
There is no rule that says I can’t hold the class. However, before I do that I would need the teacher’s permission and probably the Principal’s as well. Plus, I would need to have planned the class ahead of time with the regular teacher. Unfortunately, he hurt his foot the morning of our regular planning session, so we have nothing planned. Plus, this week the kids were supposed to bring their prototypes of their projects and present them, but we can’t really do presentations without the teacher either because he needs to evaluate their presentations and give them grades (as Peace Corps Volunteers we don’t give grades, we can just work with the teacher and suggest grades).
To what extent can I help the students with their ideas? There is quite a bit I can do. Earlier in the year they already received a series of lessons on creativity, generating ideas, and types of businesses. So what I usually do is have the kids go back in their notes and try to come up with some new ideas. Often times the kids had an idea but it won’t work for some reason – it is not creative at all, not allowed, or not feasible. Usually, we can work on creatively altering their idea to make it work. For instance, one group wanted to make vino de jamaica (hibiscus wine), but they are not allowed to make alcohol. So I had them look back at their lesson on creativity and have them think about other products that they can make with jamaica (dried hibiscus flowers are cheap and easy to get in the markets here). And this is something I can do without the teacher around, since I am just helping the kids and reinforcing the lessons that they have already learned. And sure, I can suggest the jelly – even though they wouldn’t have come up with the product, I would have, it is still a feasible product that they can work with throughout the year and learn about business and the product commercialization process. However, since these kids are older than my little jelly acolytes I would also teach them about processed food and what “value added” means, since that is the real economic story behind making jelly out of the tropical fruits that we selected.
I am sure that Nicaraguans are heavily into soccer, as most Latin American countries are. How about the kids? do all the kids play soccer? do they have organized youth leagues like AYSO, or is it mostly “freestyle,” kids just playing soccer with their friends.
Baseball is the real national sport. It got introduced by the US Marines who occupied the country at the beginning of the last century. It is expensive to play though, so it is fading. All the kids do play soccer now. And yes, there are organized leagues, even in smaller towns.