This week I met with two guys - national volunteers - who really restored my faith in what I am doing here - and heaven knows, my faith needs restoring at the moment!
Many times I havehad conversations with local people - educated, qualified, experienced people who despair of their nation - the rampant and blatant corruption at all levels, the incompetence, the lies, the arrogance, the complete dereliction of empathy or sense of duty or public service. Oftentimes I have felt like responding :"OK! I may as well go home then!"
"Please!", they say. "Mr Lea, let me follow you to your place!" Then they break out into huge grins and look at me half hoping I will take them seriously and smuggle them out somehow.
Matthew and Richard are different. They are both 'Corper +' volunteers, coming to the end of a second year of volunteering to serve in a state school as a pre-teacher. They have just told me they intend to apply for an extension to their service, optimistic that they will be taken on as permanent teachers eventually.
They have no illusions about the mess their country is in, and seemingly incapable of doing anything about it, but they are in it for the long haul and feel that their country needs them - it sure does!
Matthew and Richard have been constant attenders at the dozen or so workshop/training sessions that I have run so far in their schools, and are among the few who seem to want to implement any of the new methodologies and systems to which they have been introduced.
Matthew soaks up everything from the training and within days - hours, sometimes - is trying to incorporate it into his practice. Likewise Richard - fully absorbed in our discussions and ready to question or confirm his understanding. Richard runs after-school clubs including a Drama club and an adult literacy class which he takes out into the community. It has he who was largely resonsible for organising the environmental clean-up operation in Offa's market area a few months back at considerable personal expense.
Both these guys have the potential to become fantastic teachers and future mentors of new recruits to the profession or new national volunteers; they are already excellent role models and I am delighted with the decision they have made to stay and fight for a better deal in schools for the kids they teach. They demonstarte regularly the tolerance, charisma, patience, respect and openness that seems in short supply here, once you cross the school threshold. I just hope their colleagues realise what they have got in their midst and watch, listen and learn.
This blog is for them!
Matthew told me as a by-the way remark that he was impressed by the lesson plan format I showed him last week. He showed it in turn to a student on teaching practice who has adopted it and so impressed his tutor in using it that he has been awarded a 'pass' for lesson organisation and the plan is now being adopted by the college of education as part of their instructional material. I knew I should have copyrighted (copywritten?) it!
So, all in all I think 9/10 for today - not 10/10 - I still had to do some shopping, which inevitably exposes me to my failings in the haggling skills department. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks - which is certainly true if the old dog really can't be arsed!