Cultures may be different but children all develop in similar ways. This morning I had the privilege of observing Miss White's fifth grade English class. Miss White is one of the few American teachers at Jabulane Christian Academy in South Africa. It is difficult to make good comparisons in such short time but here are a few things I noticed.
Fifth graders act the same in every culture. They know who they like and who they don't like, today. Tomorrow it will probably change. As a result, seating charts become a teacher's way to manage an ever changing social landscape.
Kids are always quick to point out a teacher's mistake. Students always find my typographical errors. Miss White's students quickly found her American spelling of "color" instead of "colour".
Students wear uniforms in South Africa as a way to blur the poverty lines, but signs still exist if you know where to look. A lack of supplies will always make teaching a challenge. This week is the end of the grading period, so most of the dry erase markers and ink pens were drying out.
Teaching will always be a profession of compassion. I watched Miss White take time to address behavior issues quietly on the side and public distractions with patience and grace.
A room filled with multiple home languages is even harder to manage. One student had to clip down for an angry outburst, both because it was not in English and because it was unkind.
But best of all was the confirmation that a Christian school provides amazing opportunities that cannot be found in public education. Miss White addressed issues beyond punctuation and grammar by applying scripture to each situation. Her ability to build up each student's moral character while simultaneously increasing their knowledge is an amazing gift that will last far into the future.