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Showing posts from November, 2013

Prize giving ceremonies are stepping stones to reach bigger goals

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I have just returned from the prize giving ceremony at Steenberg Primary School. The entire event celebrated centered the youth, including the entertainment and the keynote address.
The Grade R learners provided us with light "wishy, washy down", banana and fishy singalongs between the various categories, singing at the top of their voices and contorting their bodies into half moons and great white sharks. Such confidence and spontaneity!

The keynote speaker was an equally confident young man. Mujaheed Damon is an alumnus of Steenberg Primary School and he is a good role model for his younger peers at Steenberg Primary. He is currently a Grade 9 learner at Norman Hensilwood High School and he was here tonight to show learners that resilience is a powerful indicator of success.
Keynote by Grade 9 learner, Mujaheed
Just like the awardees of the night, Mujaheed too started carving his journey of success at an early age. Mujaheed spoke about the balance in his life - focusing on …

International Children's Day at Capricorn Primary School goes ABC!

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Capricorn Primary School celebrated the launch of their Maths hub today, on International Children's Day.
This was the perfect day to host this event. Although the focus was on the Maths hub, we were given a snapshot of the integrated, strategic whole school development that is in place. Children performed dance and song items to celebrate their artistic gifts and the guests were taken on a guided tour to show how the school is living the Millennium Development Goals without the rhetoric. Powerful stuff. Many of the guests sat there, in awe and moved by the humility and the unapologetic celebration of the children by the school.
The Maths hub
The Maths hub was created to deepen the Maths teaching for learners by allowing dual teaching moments for Maths lessons. While half the class learns Maths in their dedicated classroom, the other half of the class goes to the Maths hub to be taught by a Maths teacher there. Nicky Roberts, who is one of the school 's Maths partners and who …

Blouvlei LSEN school goes oriental at their graduation

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Regular readers will know that I am a diehard fan of Blouvlei LSEN school in Retreat. Tonight the 2013 graduation had an eastern theme. All the honored guests - the learners and their parents looked stunning in their eastern-nuanced outfits. Tonight was another spectacular event. All the speakers reminded the learners and their parents that they are extraordinary human beings. Gideon, the Head of Department, usually the composed, witty Programme director, was visibly moved when he paid tribute to the learners, his heart was full. One could hear his disappointment and feel his hurt for the boy whose mom refused to allow him to attend the graduation. Gideon also shared the story of another graduate who, after many dark, stormy periods in his life, transformed into a dependable leader on whom his peers and teachers looked up to.We listened to Joshua thanking the school and everybody who helped to shape his life since his arrival at Blouvlei at the tender age of 8. We were in awe of Ryan,…

Memorial service for Uzusakhe of Hillwood Primary

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One of my mentors told me you need a thick skin when you are in education, especially when you have to deal with all issues related to education outside the classroom. Education is a cauldron of contestation and one needs to be ultra resilient. I have taken this advice seriously and have passed on this advice to many a school head, school leader and even to colleagues. But, I will never get used to numbing my emotions where our children are concerned - thank goodness for this!
Today again, I was so vulnerable when we bid Uzusakhe, a mere 11 years, goodbye at a memorial service held for him at the school. He is going to be buried in the Eastern Cape, his ancestral home, this weekend. Uzusakhe drowned when he and friends went to Muizenberg beach last Tuesday. Apparently he and his friends usually go to the public library on a Tuesday, but the heat wave drove them to the beach.

The memorial service was dignified, yet extremely emotional. I watched the learners sitting on the hard tarmac i…

Worm farms and container gardening at schools on the Cape Flats

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I was chatting to Lindsay, an employee of the NGO, Earthchild, the other day at Levana Primary school. Lindsay helps the learners at Zerilda Park Primary school and Levana Primary school to set up worm farms. As Lindsay explained, the worm farms are established to produce compost for the learners' own container gardens and the worm farms also help learners to learn how to care for the environment. The learners are encouraged to bring organic scraps from home to feed the busy worms. After about eight months, there is enough wholesome, rich compost to feed eight container gardens. Learners have to bring plastic crates that serve as the garden container. I am so fascinated by the talk that I am tempted to start my own worm farm.What I heard next is what gives one a reality check. Lindsay said that they were only able to secure one crate this year and could therefore only establish one container garden. Last year, Lindsay said, they were able to set up four container gardens which co…

Schools will lift if they harness their learners' entrepreneurial power

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All children are born entrepreneurs. They are curious, experimental, innovative and talented. They enjoy taking charge and showing off their skills and competencies. Yet, we force them to be passive onlookers at school assemblies and other school events. Even when we receive guests at the school, the learners often just interact with them from a distance. Often the teachers are bogged down with all the planning details while the bored learners direct their pent up energies to amuse themselves in ways which are not appreciated by the adult folk around them. The question begs: why are we not allowing the 'Steve Jobs' to help us with the organizational planning so that we can reserve our energies for the classroom?I can see the possibility of an entrepreneurial- driven Programme embedded in a school's infrastructural curriculum framework because there are schools that serve as models.Take for example, Jacques Schouw, a grade ten learner at Muizenberg High School. Jacques is …

Teaching today requires dollops of courage

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SMT of Prince George Primary School Teaching has always been challenging. In this fast- changing world, teachers are expected to lead the their children to become well- balanced, critical problem solvers who can live and work harmoniously with their communities of family, friends, fellow colleagues - everybody! How tall an order is this?

There is often some glib talking about the higher order thinking we want our children to master and the need for teachers to develop these cognitive skills of the learners. As if thinking is automatic, as if all teachers themselves have the capacity to teach the new content and the new thinking skills without the necessary training and support. it is one thing knowing say, certain content and making sense of it for yourself. But, having to mediate that same content and having to teach children the various skills to master the same, you need a basket of strategies and a solid understanding of the pedagogic demands to reach all the children successful…