My School in Colombia – First Impressions (en)
In general, Slovak students do not like to go to school. Probably the most difficult thing for them is to get up early and be at school by 7.45-8am.Well, next time they feel this way, they can think of Colombian students who start their first lesson at 6am. Yes, you read it and understand correctly - they really start the school at 6 in the morning. When I heard about it for the first time, I thought they were joking. Colombian students don't seem too upset about it. I haven't seen a single grouchy student yet and they are all nicely groomed in their school uniforms.
Personal grooming and uniforms – two things that seem to play rather an important role in Colombian lives. I noticed that boys and girls at my school have their hair neatly combed, their uniforms are always clean and I spotted two students polishing their shoes with a brush which they whipped out of their school bags. The other day when they returned to their classroom after the P.E. lesson, they ran out and complained of someone being sweaty and stinky. When I got in, I could barely smell anything apart from slightly stuffy air which is hardly surprising considering the heat (35-37˚C). Nevertheless, their head teacher showed up in a jiffy and gave them a quick lecture on personal hygiene.
Colombian people appear to have a thing for uniforms. My students at school have 3 sets of school uniform. One for every day, one for a day when they have a P.E. class and one for 'representative purposes (don't know what it really means). Apart from schools, you can find uniforms everywhere. Every company of a few employees has at least their own T-shirts. You can notice two different sets of school uniforms in the photos.
And a bit more about Colombian public schools in the coast or as they call it 'Costeño' region. Majority of them don't have any A/C units, they just have fans. And as shocking as it may seem to you, there are windows with no panes of glass to let the air in. When they told us about it during our orientation in Bogotá, I couldn't imagine it. However, when I got here and experienced the heat, it seemed natural. Also bear in mind that because of its geographical proximity to the equator, Colombia doesn't have seasons. Although there are rainy, dry, and breezy seasons in different regions of Colombia, most Colombian cities experience relatively the same climate and temperatures year round.
As you can see in the photos, the classrooms are relatively small, smaller than average Slovak classroom. The number of students per each classroom is however much higher. Usually there are between 40-50 students in one class – for all the subjects. With that number of students it's a challenge to maintain some kind of discipline and noise level. Let's see how much I can achieve in terms of actually teaching them some English.
Not only that classes are a bit chaotic due to the high number of students, but also the entire organization of a school day is a bit disordered. Morning classes are often disrupted because students are served breakfast (they don't do it during their breaks but they call them randomly) and school days get canceled because of various (unimaginable) reasons. For example today the lessons were canceled because of an apparently false alarm of contaminated water (thanks God). And my coordinator told me a story in which school was canceled because an iguana (they have them here, I saw a really huge one last week on my walk) set a chemistry lab on fire.
Can't wait for all is here to come…
A few photos from school: