Kids say the darndest things

As I mentioned in the last post, we started the assessment process on Tuesday of 158 children, all of the children in the Standard 1 (grade 1) class. At the end of day three today, we have assessed 65 children. We hope finish the assessment by next week Tuesday or Wednesday and then spend a few days analyzing the data and looking at what we are working with and make a plan for the next phase of data collection. We were very worried about getting this assessment phase finished and the time involved, be we have been very efficient. Yesterday was hard, because the students were still making lots of noise and watching us, but today, after a strong lecture from the teachers, the children were well behaved and stayed away. We are also becoming more efficient in giving the assessment and my Swahili is improving so I am not looking at the sheet for some of the questions to make sure I say them correctly. Conversationally and assessment wise I am doing fine, I just need to continue to improve my vocabulary.

So, I thought I would share some of the more interesting answers we got and those that show some of the cultural differences. On the assessment, we have shapes and colors.  In the Tanzanian national curriculum for standard 1, students are expected to learn and know these, but they are seldom actually taught. So, when we ask the kids about them, they usually tell us what the shape looks like from the real world or the color that it is similar to in their world.

For example, red and sometimes purple is “rangi ya damu” or the color of blood and pink or red can also be “rangi ya damu mzee” or blood of an old person.” Orange is sometimes “moto moto” or fire. Brown is almost always “rangi ya udongo” or the color of the ground, but that is also sometimes orange because they have red or orange clay here that is a deep orange or maroon.

The square is almost always TV, but sometimes called a radio or a computer and they use those words, which are used in Swahili the same as in English. The diamond is sometimes “nyoka” or snake. Octagon is a ball because they see the octagon on the soccer balls, but sometimes they say the octagon is “hela” or change because the 50 shilling coin is in a septagon, so that is really interesting. Our favorite shape answer though, is for the heart. When we point to it, most every child says “I love you.” If we ask again, they said “ni I love you,” or it is an I love you, as an object. We chuckle when we hear it.

At the end of the test, we ask questions on information from the science curriculum, which is really a lot of information on health, cleanliness, safety, and nutrition. Cleanliness is taught and Sarah has witnessed science lessons about cleaning in the classroom. On of the topics is also on how to safely carry heavy objects.  For readers familiar with African countries, they will know the correct answer is to carry things on their head. Several children said head, some said bag or hands. But two clever children had more creative answers. When asked? How do you carry heavy luggage or bags? One boy said he would get a friend to help and another young girl said that she would reduce the load. I laughed that she would reduce the load, because I hadn’t thought of that as an answer, but it makes a lot of sense.

Standard 1 math test for the first half of the year

Finally, in our picture for the day, here is the test that they gave for math for the end of the first six months of school. As you can see the test is handwritten and then photocopied. The first column says questions, the second says work, and the third says answer.

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