Monday, July 28, 2014

Differences In Our Similarities

Below are a few differences:

  • The driver seat in a car is on the right side
  • Drive on the opposite sides of the road
  • Students stand when they answer the teacher's questions
  • Students are not supervised during breaks
  • Electrical plugs have three-round prongs
  • Pork beans are served with breakfast
  • Use the metric system (meters instead of miles)
  • Money is called rand:  10 rand equals about $1 US 
  • Use alot of glassware instead of plastic and/or styrofoam
  • Principals do not observe teachers; observations/evaluation is the responsibility of the Head of Department


  1. Good evening, I know you are enjoying this learning experience. Are the Head of Departments classroom teachers? If so how do the teachers feels about their peers conducting observations/evaluations? Is the climate and culture conducive for this process to occur without bias?

    1. The Heads of Departments are master teachers. They have respect and trust from their colleagues through hard work and mastery of the curriculum. Many teachers are comfortable being evaluated by their peer because they have developed a relationship with them and value the head of department's feedback. One teacher told me that his head of department can relate to classroom issues because she teaches classes as well. The head of department is viewed as "being in the trenches" with teachers.

      I believe the culture is conducive for the process to occur without bias. However, with any situation, it depends on individuals and how they perform their duties.

  2. I am surprised to see individuals with coats! What was your greatest surprise? Why are the children not supervised? How would you describe the relationship between the teachers and department head?

    1. It is winter time in South Africa. We visited two coastal cities, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The breeze from the ocean made it very cool at night and early in the morning.

      It was obvious to me that children knew the expectations of their teachers as it relates to behavior. Students would play outside with no major incidents. Behavior issues were little to none. I believe there is a level of trust between student and teacher that we do not have in the US. I am not saying that children do not ever misbehave, but teachers and principal have set behavior expectations which are ingrained in the culture.

      I believe teachers and department heads have a trusting relationship. Teachers respect and value their input because department heads are master teachers. It is part of South African education structure for department heads to evaluate teachers, monitor lesson plans and curriculum, and provide assist to teachers. This role is not given to anyone because it is a huge responsibility.

  3. My greatest surprise was the modernization of the country. I expected it to be partially undeveloped with tribal people wearing head ties, dashikis, and long dresses. This was not the case! Traditional garments have been replaced by western clothing that was introduced by European colonialists. The cities would remind you of New York City with its tall skyscraper buildings, restaurants, and heavy traffic. Television has really distorted my thinking of Africa because many times it shows the undeveloped areas which make me think all areas were the same. My visit has dispelled the myth that Africa is "uncivilized".