By: Memory Musabayana
Since 2004 Memory has been the Data Capture clerk for the Bridge The Gap (BTG) rural teacher training project ongoing in Zimbabwe. Although very familiar with the data and results the project is producing, recently she gained new insight and attended a BTG Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW). It was an eye opener for her and she submitted the following to share her experience.
"I was not aware that teaching is also a learning process, until I attended the Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW) at Rowa Training Centre in Mutare. The highly qualified proved that they were learned, but still needed to learn more from those with more experience.
During the past years the primary school teachers who were recruited for training, were trained irrespective of whether they had passed Mathematics. Most of the teachers did not have or had not passed Mathematics at Ordinary Level. This led to a decrease in the performance of mathematics both in primary schools and secondary schools.
Some important concepts in Mathematics are introduced at grade three level in primary schools. If the teacher is not good in Mathematics he/she will not be able to teach effectively the grade three students these new concepts. At the next level which is grade four, if the teacher is also not good enough the trend will continue until the student feels that it is better to drop Mathematics at ‘O’-Level.
The Zimbabwean Government has intervened through the MoESC. All teachers training at primary school level now have to have a pass in ‘O’ level Mathematics as a compulsory subject for recruitment.
At the ITTW teachers were surprised to learn that the teaching of Mathematics could be so inspiring when they were taught addition and subtraction through songs, multiplication can be done on one’s finger and learning direction through dance and songs. This was hilarious but informative.
A lecturer who was invited to facilitate, taught the teachers how to teach difficult subtraction to children using different methods. I realized that most teachers had a problem in this area as they were used to just one method. If students at grade three are introduced to a certain method and when at grade four their new teacher is not familiar with the method taught at grade three, he will teach a new method. If the pupil uses the method taught at grade three they will be marked wrong. This leads to a lot of confusion amongst pupils. Teachers should therefore learn all the concepts used in difficult subtraction."