The views expressed herein are mine and not those of the Peace Corps.



Useful Acronyms

PC Peace Corps
ICT Information & Communications Technology
PCT Peace Corps Trainee (pre-swearing-in)
PCV Peace Corps Volunteer (post-swearing-in)
PST Pre-Service Training
CBT Community-Based Training


Part of our training to be teachers here in Tanzania is working with local teachers to observe and then teach some classes. Us ICT folks (for those of you just tuning in, that’s Information and Communcations Technology) have only one teacher between the three of us. Unlike everyone else, our teacher is not located at the site where we have language training, so we have to drive back and forth to a school perhaps a ten minute drive away. Because of the drive and the timetable, before today we had observed two classes and helped out in the lab portions, but had not had a chance to talk with our teacher after class.

Today we were supposed to observe a class, but the class was canceled for some reason unclear to me, so we got to talk to our teacher for the first time. It was incredibly frustrating.

Not so much because of the teacher, although his tendency to respond “yes” to all questions he did not understand rapidly confused us a great deal, but because of the curriculum. We have been given books for Form I and Form II as well as a national syllabus for topics to be covered. The Form III material is the worst, for me.
Our teacher had an old copy of the syllabus which showed that Form III students should learn programming in BASIC. Not my language of choice, but I could teach it, and they were learning programming skills. In the new syllabus, which seems to have removed all potentially useful content in the name of making the subject matter friendlier for non-science-type people, students instead talk about how technology is used in their lives, what professions use technology…There is no programming. For a good while, computers are not necessary (and we will not be using them). It is all qualitative and fluffy and, to be frank, not useful.

It is not what I imagined I would be teaching when they said I would teach computer science. The Form IIs are learning Excel–teaching is slow, because the computers are old and varied and because the students do not know how to type–but they are learning useful skills! Anita and I have been discussing how we would begin to teach such a topic. That is appealing to me.

I do not want to spend my time standing in front of a chalkboard discussing how a doctor uses technology. I feel that that is wasting my time and the students’. I do not want to teach to this test.

So here’s hoping I get a non-O-level placement.

On the plus side, today we had practice teaching in front of other PCTs and mine went very well. I hate the topic (ICT And You!) and I am worried about class participation–I asked lots of questions and the trainees at least said things instead of staring at me–but I’ll find out next Thursday how I do in front of an actual class. Updates as events warrant.

(On a more self-involved note, if that is even possible, I have gained some weight here! Maybe five pounds. I am irritated with myself, because it is preventable: I find myself eating until I feel rather full, because the food is good and because I don’t want to be rude. I serve dinner to everyone at home, though, so I have realized that I can just serve myself less. Hopefully that will solve the problem.)