Quality training

Obviously it’s been very interesting for me to be on the ohter side of the classroom divide over here in Kenya. My trainers here are kenyans, one of them’s a woman, and a muslim too, the first I’ve really met in Kenya. She doesn’t shake hands. Or perhaps she doesn’t with men. I wasn’t expecting that when I first met her and I’ve been completely trained to shake everyone’s hands over here that I fell for it when I first met her, thinking I was culturally obliged to greet her. My friend from Uganda met her today and fell into the same moment of awkwardness. He confided in me (so I’m going to publish it here!) that he felt very embarrassed.

Also interesting was the part of our course on Best Practises in education. Now this is a subject that interests me a lot and I have way too much to say on the topic; I can’t write it all here now sadly. But I have to mention that the powerpoint slides they were using for the lesson (provided by Cisco I think from the look-and-feel) were the second-worst sort: those made up of just bullet lists of text.

(if anyone is intrested, the worst sort are those that have **so much** text in the bullet lists that the designer has to reduce the font size to fit it all onto a page and then the stuff can’t be read by the audience. If you know of a worse sort of powerpoint slide than that, please post a comment and let me know. I have a prize for the absolute worst).

The slide on Use Of Visual Aides (or something of that sort) had a list of diagram types… no illustrations. we spent some time wondering what some of them might look like; if only there had been… some visual aides.

The problem with teaching about good teaching is that the subject matter focuses the student’s mind (well this student’s at any rate) on the delivery. A tough call for anyone. I tried to hold back my criticism of the Kenyan education system and managed to start a discussion among the trainers and my colleagues about such problems as how to motivate our students to participate in experimental student-centred, problem sovling activities of the sort espoused by the Best Practises slides. That was the best part of the course. Most of the rest of the time, it has to be said, the trainer was just reading the bloody powerpoint slides.

Also on this topic… in the past when I have been given training or instruction on presenting or teaching, eye-contact has always ben emphasized as an important aspect of delivery. The rules for that must be totally different in Kenya where, I’m told, it is considered **rude** for students to look directly at their teacher’s face. Appropriate behaviour, it is reported, is to look down or to the side while being personally addressed by the teacher. Failure to do so might result in chastisement.

Beam me up, Scottie. :doze: But not until I’ve had at least one more go at this classroom thing…

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