Saturday, December 4, 2010

Service Learning - Self and Identity

In volunteering at sao mai, there are a lot of children who come and go during the class to lessons and then there are some students who don't show up for weeks and when they do they feel out of place and don't like to go to school anymore. In my classroom, there are a couple of kids who I don't see for at least 2 weeks because they don't attend, and then they would show up the next week and feel very fussy and angry that they have to come. I asked the teachers where the children go or if there has to be a valid excuse for students not to attend class and they said that there isn't any such thing. She says that because the kids are special, that sometimes they just need a break and that how the school is runned, students don't really have grades to give out or demerits if misbehaved badly or missing classes. The parents pay for their kids to come and if there they don't come then that's up to the parents as well. In thinking of self and identity I wonder what the children will grow up to be like and how they will identify themselves. In sao mai, they practice how to develop simply life skills to take care of themselves and how to talk if they have the capacity to, but I think in a way, they try to establish a sense of self for the children as well. One of the lesson plans that the teachers do involves the student going up in front of the class and pointing their picture on a chalk board. They are asked to find their picture on the board, and then say their name and then asked for find that person in the classroom which means pointing to themselves. Other times, the are asked to find a picture of other classmates and their names and to go point to them in the classroom. I think this is to establish how to say their name and to recognize other people. In this way, I think Sao Mai does try to help the kids have a self identity. In thinking about self identity, is it really all that easy to just know your name and picture and say that you know yourself? definitely not. but at least with the kids, it is a step. But I think that the teachers should start incorporating things that the kids like to do, such as ask the kids "What does (insert name) like to eat?", What does (insert name) like to play" And then the kids can answer "I" like to do this and that. I think knowing yourself has to do with knowing what you like and don't like, and what you feel. Most of the kids do have favorite things to do. Like one kid loves to eat. and will eat anything and everything off the floor. So In terms of Sao Mai, they do try to practice and teach the children who they are, but only time will tell if the kids actually know who they are or not.