We’re not merely teachers...

by Jocely de Deus Pinheiro May - 2006

Dear Farm Friends,

I don’t know if you all know, but I’ve been doing a bit of travelling out of the Farm due to a course I decided to do in Zukiland. It was Witch Hazel who told me about the course. She made such good comments about it that I decided to enrol.

 

The trip to Zukiland was a bit tiresome. It is a rocket trip that took 12 hours due to the fact that it is in outer space. It was the first time I was in a rocket, so I was very anxious about it. The board service was fantastic: lot’s to eat and drink. I also liked the nice documentary about Zukiland, which was shown. The weather in Zukiland was nice, and the accommodation superb! I was happy to be there and I was eager to have my first class, which took place the next day.

One of the topics we were going to study was the Common European Framework Portfolio. Our first issue was the one of getting children involved with the knowledge of new cultures and languages. Well, to make things more practical, one of our teachers (Mr. Ikuz) invited us to go and SEE how the Portfolio worked in a school he knew very well. He had organized a visit to the school the following week.

As he knew I am a Brazilian Sunflower, he challenged me to prepare something about Brazil/Brazilians to tell the children. (And I accepted it, of course!) He wanted us to observe how children that work with the Portfolio are more open to meeting foreigners and more curious about other cultures. My classmates and I were very excited about the visit. (Oh, I forgot to say that, in the course, we were a group of 12 teachers, all from different nationalities. This richness of cultural backgrounds made our classes really interesting!

Needless to say I stayed the whole weekend preparing my session because I wanted the children to enjoy learning about Brazil/Brazilians. As I had a 50 minute session, I decided to start by asking the kids a couple of general questions such as if they knew where Brazil was located in the world map. Afterwards, I decided to talk a bit about the language we speak, the meaning of the colours of our flag, basic curiosities about our food and daily life… I also prepared a memory game with Brazilian money, which is called REAL, a puzzle of the Brazilian flag, and a small short story, which, in fact, is a song I wanted to teach them sing. The idea was to teach the children a couple of words in Portuguese and the gestures they were supposed to do each time they heard these words in the song! Obviously, I had planned to take the guitar to sing with the kids and have a lot of fun!

 

The experience was fantastic! The children really enjoyed knowing more about Brazil/Brazilians, playing memory with Brazilian money, colouring the flag according to the puzzle they had done, learning some words in Portuguese, and singing and dancing the song… I was thrilled by the kids participation and curiosity, and also by the way they compared what I was telling them to other cultures and countries they had already “studied” during the previous Portfolio activities they had already had. The activities came out so fine, that Mr. Ikuz asked me to do it again in other classes and levels. I was really happy to be spreading knowledge about my country in such a faraway land (Zukiland is really far away from Brazil and from the Farm, believe me!). And I was very grateful to Witch Hazel for having told me about the course in Zukiland…

  Well, the next day, after having had classes with Mr. Ikuz, and getting feedback on my session and what we had observed, some of my classmates and I decided to go to the local shopping centre for a nice chat and yummy snacks! (Oh, I must not forget to say that I had never eaten such delicious kinds of biscuits such as in Zukiland. My favourite was zukini biscuit, which I had with lovely iced-lemon tea!) When I was queuing in order to buy my yummy snack, I heard a shy voice saying: “-Hi!” It was the voice of a little boy, a little boy of about 6 years old. He smiled and kept looking into my eyes with such a thrill as if he had seen a famous pop star. I must confess I became shy and didn’t know what to do. The only thing I managed to do was to say: “Hi!” The little boy kept there, looking at me and smiling. (Those seconds took forever because I didn’t understand why that little boy was looking at me that way) I don’t know what went on in my brain but, suddenly, I had the idea to ask him where he studied. His answer was: “- You went to my school yesterday and I liked it!”

That was it… He had been in one of my sessions about Brazil. That’s why he talked to me. After recovering my speech, I asked him what he had learned about Brazil. The little kid started recalling all he had learnt:

-“Brazil is faraway from Zukiland. To get there I have to take a rocket and it takes 12 hours. It’s a beautiful country. People are very happy and like dancing and drinking. Even children drink coffee in Brazil! In Brazil, people don’t divide the meals in courses, and they don’t eat with bread, instead they eat with rice. There is a great variety of fruit and people love ice-cream with fruit flavours. The money bills in Brazil are colourful and have animals printed on them. These animals are typical of the Brazilian forests and ocean. I liked the memory game we played with the money! People in Brazil like having the national flag printed on their clothes, shoes, bags, etc…The flag is beautiful and each colour represents something: green=forests, yellow=gold, blue= Brazilian sky, stars=states. I liked colouring the flag. I have put it in my bedroom. Ronaldinho is Brazilian. I like Ronaldinho because I support Barcelona football club. In some parts of Brazil it is never cold. Children can play outside everyday. Children go to school at 7:30 in the morning. I don’t like that because it’s too early! In Brazil people speak Portuguese, not Brazilian! I told my mummy the words I learnt in Portuguese. I cannot sing the song but I can whistle it. It’s a pretty song. I like you! I enjoyed seeing you play the guitar and sing. Will you go to my class and play with us again?”

 

After saying all this, the little boy continued smiling and looking at me with such a glow in his eyes that I felt touched! Luckily, his mom approached and called him because I was speechless. (See how touched I was! Because me speechless is something rarely seen!) The little boy introduced me to him mummy and I had a short chat with her. She told me she was very surprised to see her son approaching someone “different” and starting up a conversation, as he seems to be quite a shy child. It was then that I knew that Kizu (this was his name) arrived home the previous day asking his mummy to learn how to play the guitar, and willing to tell everyone in the house all he had learnt about Brazil.

While I was talking to Kizu’s mom, Kizu didn’t stop looking at me with that beautiful glow in his eyes. We said goodbye to each other but, before Kizu left, he shyly approached and hugged me. Then he ran towards his mummy…

After all this experience, I felt like having twice as much an amount of zukini biscuits and iced-lemon tea. When I got back to the table where my classmates were, they asked me who the little boy was, and why he looked at me the way he did. I was kind of silent because my mind was reflecting about the glow in the little boy’s eyes. While having our yummy snacks, my friends and I started talking about the experience I had just lived and we all came to the conclusion that

TEACHING IS ALL ABOUT LIGHTENING THE GLOW IN THE STUDENTS’ EYES/HEARTS!

During our sharing of reflections, one of my classmates, a teacher from Nigeria, recalled the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (b.1930) when he says that

“Children are young, but they’re not naïve. And they’re honest. They’re not going to keep awake if the story is boring. When they are excited, you can see it in their eyes.”

Another classmate, a teacher from Israel, promptly read to us something he had jotted down, and which was written by the Israeli psychologist Haim Ginott (1922-1975) and which goes like this:

“The world talks to the mind but a teacher speaks more intimately; he/she talks to the heart!”.

I don’t know how long Kizu will remember the session we had about Brazil, and I don’t know how long Kizu will remember me… but, there is one thing I know: yesterday, I talked to Kizu’s heart and that made all the difference in his school day!

We’re not merely teachers; we’re people who talk to hearts…
Good food for thought, isn’t it?

Love,
Sunflower

 

Bibliography:

Running Press. (1999). TEACHER: A Little Book of Appreciation. Running Press Miniature Editions.

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