(Written on Thursday)
Amosi! I’m writing this offline as the internet doesn’t seem to working today. I was at the Orongo Orphans’ Nursery today and yesterday, which had the usual mixture of discouragement and glimpses of hope. Roger sent me 2 books at the start of the week about making toys and school resources from local materials, like an abacus from bottle tops, a sand pit from a big tyre, musical instruments from bamboo etc. The books inspired and excited me more than any of the projects and schools I have seen so far, and I wonder if this will be the education related ‘niche’ I have been longing for.
The bottle top collecting is going well, and there are several ‘soda- sellers’ collecting them for me, so I have a growing colourful collection. I spoke to the Nursery teacher, Joy, about some of my ideas and showed her the books. She surprised me by bringing various lovely homemade resources like a bottle top number chart and a soft toy that she had made on her teacher training course. It turns out that Joy started out with a more interactive classroom with different areas, colourful sugar sack posters, etc, but as the classroom has no lock they were all damaged or stolen. It made me realise how problems can be much more complex than they initially seem. So perhaps, the starting point for the Nursery school isn’t more resources, but a secure place to store them and a lock for the classroom. I also discussed with Joy about whether there was some work that could be done on classroom rules and encouraging the children to respect property. I’m not how well this went down, but I don’t see the point in making funky bamboo xylophones and a colourful bottle top abacus if they won’t be looked after. I used the bottle tops today with the baby class to practice sorting into colours, and it was again a sad situation, where they tried to hoard and hide them in their pockets and clothes, and put them in their mouths and didn’t share them. It makes you wonder what the solution is when children are not only fighting over toys, but also over freely available ‘junk’ items. I suppose any children anywhere will fight over things of novelty value, and playing with a heap of bottle tops was a novelty to them.
Despite the mix of emotions at the nursery, I’m encouraged that Joy seems willing, (and even a bit excited) to create some of the toys and resources with me and my next challenge is to negotiate a good price for an old tyre…