A few days ago, while meeting with the team to debrief about our week at Emafini, the topic about class discussions was brought up. I was quick to share that I noticed that the students do not spend time discussing a topic in the classroom.
Back at home I have my students engage in a lot of discussions and seminars about current events, history or books. I let my students lead the talks and argue their thoughts with little guidance from myself. My fifth graders surprise me with the depth of their discussions about my read alouds.
This week at Emafini Primary, I tried to have the students share their thoughts with me and it was difficult. I assumed that this was because they weren’t taught how to argue or discuss; until I remembered that some of the most intelligent conversations I’ve had has been with the youth in South Africa. In previous blogs, I talked about how overwhelmed I became listening to people in their teens talk about the world around them.
The learners at Emafini have had a similar effect on me. When they are in between classes and we have a second to discuss what their interests are, or what is going on in their world, they light up and love to share their thoughts.
When I compare my learners in America, to the learners in South Africa, I’ve noticed that my students can talk about literature and social studies freely, but conversations about their life at home or about their neighborhood have not taken place. Whereas the children in Port Elizabeth speak of their communities with ease, but do not question literature or science.
I’m reminded that my way, or our way, is not the “right way.”