Stephen comes up with the best ideas. A few months ago, I mentioned we started something new through Stephen’s great idea and a grant from Kingdom Mission Fund.
It’s easily a favorite these days.
Currently, we have ten students and four adults learning English. We have four students learning guitar and one more learning cajon. (Even more incredibly, thanks to the help of some friends in Mae Sot and Stephen pre-organizing all the curriculum, all these are continuing to study while we’re away!)
There are lots of reasons to love schoolhouse.
First, we love seeing the kids and adults succeed; to be so proud of themselves. It’s fun to work with them on it, helping them learn and answering questions.
For English, Rosetta Stone is a pretty incredible program. I’m so thankful it allows me to be everything other than a teacher in these classes! Sometimes I watch kids; sometimes I help with pronunciation. Stephen is often the technology specialist: helping them understand the warnings that open, or why the microphone doesn’t work.
One day Stephen had run to the hospital while I oversaw two boys’ English lessons. One of them was having a hard time with Rosetta Stone understanding him, so I was trying to help as he would repeat, “It is a car. It is a car. It…is…a….car. IT IS A CAR. IT IS A CAR.” Then he switched to Burmese. “IT ISN’T WORKING BECAUSE STEPHEN ISN’T HERE.”
So at least we all know what our roles are 😁
And while Rosetta Stone is amazing, it’s very gracious with pronunciation. VERY. Sometimes I can’t tell what they were supposed to be saying!
For guitar, we have an app that teaches them a chord, and then has them play it with a song. They have to hit it on beat and get the chord correct. (Not that surprising for the idea of learning guitar.)
And then for cajon, Stephen has a separate lesson with this student every Friday. They have been working their way through a video course, and he’s getting pretty good!
I think our favorite part of Schoolhouse are the one-on-one opportunities it gives us. As the community keeps growing, it’s hard to stay connected to those we know best and have known the longest. Sometimes they are actually more stable now than they were; while the more unstable families ask for assistance and take more time. These classes have really allowed us to pick and choose some individuals we can invest in, hopefully with long-term impact on their language and music skills, learning opportunities, and mentorship.
We continue to ruminate on to Jared Diamond’s words, “I have heard many anecdotal stories, among my own friends, of children who were raised by difficult parents but who nevertheless became socially and cognitively competent adults, and who told me that what had saved their sanity was regular contact with a supportive adult other than their parents, even if that adult was just a piano teacher whom they saw once a week for a piano lesson.” (The World Until Yesterday, p.190) Here’s to hoping these lessons are just that–in difficult home situations, amidst the challenges of poverty–one hour a week with a friend willing to stumble over languages, laugh, and learn new skills together.