During my time with iReachAfrica, I had the privilege of meeting some of the people who are actively shaping what the future of Mozambique will look like. They are a group of teachers. But it's not because they are teachers that they are shaping the future. It's because they are learners.
I spent an afternoon talking with them about how the brain works so that we might understand how children learn. I started the conversation by showing them a picture of the brain on my iPad. I quickly realized that they hadn't ever seen the brain before and didn't know what we were looking at. As we then zoomed out and progressed through the layers of whole body into the brain, their eyes grew larger at each deepening layer.
The focus of the conversation was on how fear, intimidation, and shame affect the brain and thus a child's ability to learn. I then talked about principles of how we can bring the children back into a condition that they will naturally learn in.
About half way through our conversation, I began to conclude that the ease of our conversation was due to the fact that we speak two different languages and that they were very polite hosts...
...until it came time to put the principles into practice and talk about what this looks like in their classroom. Before I could even let out my deep sigh of, "This didn't work," they each began describing how they have seen this in the classroom, how it has affected the kids, and how excited they were to make some changes. Still skeptical, I asked for their ideas on what changes we could make so that the children might naturally learn. They each had examples of what they were currently doing that lined up with what we were talking about and ideas of what they would do the next day.
I was astounded at how accurately they understood the new concepts, how quickly they were able to see where effective changes could be made, and how eager they were to do what they do, better.
I took some time to explore their classrooms and was amazed at the creativity on display: the excellence that they put into their work—and that they encouraged out of the kids—as well as the evidence of how excited they were about the future of the children that they were investing in. They captivated my heart and made me want to learn as much as I could to be like them—leading their students by being the best learner in the room.
Missionary, Coach, Friend