Saturday, November 19, 2011


Although sometimes instructions seem redundant, or untimely, they are always important. That's because following them can save you lots of good things like time, effort, and even valuable points on a test. Thankfully, I wasn't the one writing a test this week. But these youngsters were.

This is the group of 5th graders who recently "graduated" from the mission school's Grade 5 and who want to go on to Grade 6 next year at an external school. This will be necessary until we are granted permission to add higher grades to our school.

One of the steps in the process is that students undergo a simple evaluation of the 3 "R's" (reading, writing and arithmetic). In the above photo, they're getting a quick orientation to the process as well as an introduction to staff members who will be monitoring them during the test.

Then, they split off into groups of 6-10 for their evaluations. Joao and I took one group on our veranda.

Hmm, serious stuff.

Once I was done helping with the reading evaluations, I took a few moments to pop my head in on the other groups.

This group sat in the "internet office" under Celestino's watchful eye (he's quite the stickler for discipline and detail). For the brief moment I was there, I heard him reminding the youngsters to "...observe the instructions at the top of the math page. It says to 'Calculate'. I want to remind you that when it says 'calculate', it means show all your work, fully, in proper form. Don't just give the answer. You'll be docked points for not showing your work."

I gulped hard for the kids, snapped this photo, silently wished them all the best, then backed out so they could concentrate.

Below is Matthew's little flock in the main office. They looked like they were pretty much done other than each still taking his/her turn outside to read their assigned piece of literature.

The two guys in the doorway are two of the school's teachers who accompanied the students. They were pacing back and forth, like worried parents, offering words of encouragement here and there.

And here's Prosper's group in the shade of the big tree in the front yard of the office. I see one boy looking up at the birds. Not tooooo much stress here.

All in all the process didn't take more than about an hour and then the students were off to their homes to enjoy the summer break. Celestino brought me their papers afterwards to quickly go over the results and pointed out that some of the students lost points for not having paid attention to the instruction "calculate" on the math page. "Calculate," he informed me, "doesn't mean to just write the answer. It means you have to show all your work, and your work has to be in order. 10's in the 10's place, 1's in the 1's place, and so on. Otherwise you make mistakes."

I sat straight and said, "Wow, Celestino. Sometimes I miss reading instructions too and just jump into the work
. Good thing I didn't have to write this test...I may have flunked it entirely!" I was half joking, half serious. Half joking because the way they do long division here was mind bogglingly different to me. I recall learning a rather upside-down method in Brazil long ago, but I think this is even different to that!

Anyway, I'd meant to post this photo last week but I think it got left out by mistake. This is us, Francois and Joao (far right) with some of the school's first students when "school" was held under the trees. They are now adults and either settling down and starting their families or pursuing a vocation.

Below is oldest photo of the school I have on my laptop. By this point, we had transformed an old dilapidated farm laborers' dorm into a large one-room school house by covering it with a big thatched roof, extending the building's width, and putting blackboards on the walls. On Sundays, it was used as a church.

To wrap things up for this time, here are a few shots of a home visit Celestino and I made to a young mother who suffered a puff adder (viper) bite a few weeks ago. Thankfully the wound is healing up well and she is able to walk. After a few visits, we decided the family was ready to take over her dressing changes on their own, so we left supplies and all the instructions needed.

Celestino was the one who demonstrated and gave the instructions, of course. Concisely, and with attention to detail, as always :)

At the end, when we asked if the instructions were clear, the young lady nodded her head without hesitation. And so did this entire line of cute little onlookers as well.

That's good. Learn it now, kids. Be that attentive to instructions always and you'll do better, in general, on just about any of life's tests!

1 comment:

Todd Green said...

Another great post, Lynn! I always enjoy your stories.