Adult Literacy

I have nothing but admiration for teachers that take on adult literacy in South Africa. The hardest thing to fight is ‘learner’ lack of belief in themselves, lack of ‘give it a bash’ attitude.

Strangely, if you point and say “I think you should learn to do this,” that means “I am always going to come and tell you what you should learn, so don’t worry, when I am not standing here, you don’t have to think of something to learn, you can just sit and stare into space.” A vivid example of this is Annohoa who EMPHATICALLY insisted that it was not her job to look around in the house to see what was dirty and clean it, it was the “boss” who must come and point it out to her before she cleans it. And I am not talking about new bits and pieces, I am talking about something she has cleaned uncountable numbers of times before. Bizarre.

On the positive side, I know that co-opting is essential. Pummi is not a “cleaning woman”, she is a “family member” who has certain chores she must also do, the same way I have my chores to do. I am her “Mummi” and I must teach her how she wants to be taught. Despite the fact that I can see the vast universe that she has to learn and despite the fact that I can tell that unless she applies herself she doesn’t have the faintest hope of catching up. Not the faintest. Trust me. So, I cannot expect her to go home and think about what she learned today. No, I must go on teaching her the same thing every day, until, MAYBE, one day it sinks in, is osmotically absorbed.

And, there’s no shame in expecting me to submit myself to having my time sucked away in this selfish manner. Not a jot. And I have to be polite about it too. Suck the you know what of the Big Stick Boy (CEO) that asked me to do it – FOR FREE. Like my time has no value.

I have been stuck with someone lecturing me on the difference between a Mac and a PC (me a desktop publisher for 15 years, him a financial manager ‘promoted’ to ‘art director’ within a company). He was there to complain that the CD I wrote for him (not having file extensions on my files – I’m a Mac girl, and not having been told to convert them and make a PC CD) – he was angry with me because my CD won’t mount on his drive, and he was there to find out “if (I) was intelligent enough to do it right this time”. Quote, unquote. I tried to explain to him that I could write a PC CD but then the files would be inaccessible on the double click – and he talked over me.

Aside: Teaching is learning the skills themselves, but over the years as the skills have become larger and mountainous, teaching has become mentoring. In effect, tertiary education has become mentoring, because students have to do a large part of the learning by themselves, lecturers point the way.

Aside: ‘Doing’ is the most important focus. Just sitting around is not constructive, creates institutionalized unemployability. ‘Doing’ is stimulating, even if it is incidental. Creates a creative environment in which to think.

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