…Brainstorming with the English Dept
Morris Mtisi —
FRIDAY 14 October, 2016 and Saturday 15th found me at Emmanuel High School in Ruwangwe-Nyanga. My business was as usual consultancy for teachers and students of English Language and Literature. Thank you the Emmanuel school head, Mr Mandioma for hosting me at your house for three nights, and Mr Edward Munembe for assisting me through and through in my presentations.
Emmanuel High has begun to realise the critical importance of Organisational Learning. This is one model, among several others, used to assess the quality of education in schools, even colleges and universities. It simply says a school must be a learning entity. Like a student, every school must learn and continue to learn. From who? From every source imaginable and reachable! From experts, from consultants, from the internet, from newspapers, from radio and television, from magazines, literary from everywhere!
Schools that exist in isolation like islands limit and lock their potential. This is a topic I wish to share with schools and school authorities soon and very soon. Watch this space and DiamondFM Radio for those who receive our radio signal on 103.8 every Thursday between 8 and 9 pm. On this programme I host a guest or guests on various educational topics. It is an educational talk-show called HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH MM.
Back to Emmanuel High in Nyanga:
Form 4 English Paper 1: Focus was on Narrative Composition Writing, reason being that more than 95 percent of candidates choose story-writing in every given examination. Please revise the skills we covered and polish them up for October 27 when you write your Paper 1. Remember what I said: “This is a paper that is naturally ‘leaked’ every year.
Whether ZIMSEC wants it or not, “tinotoriziva zama irori risati ranyorwa every year. We always know. We know exactly the questions asked, even the number of composition types. We can therefore thoroughly prepare for it, know what skills we are going to use, including how we will begin, develop the stories, how we will make them interesting, captivating and gripping.
We know how we will end the stories, everything is there in the ‘tool box’; images to select from, figures of speech, strong verbs and adjectives, descriptive detail. We will remember in our narratives (stories) to use direct speech where fitting, appropriately punctuated and supported.
Section B is less obvious, but even this we know it may be letter writing, a speech, a newspaper article, graphs or pie charts, reports, CV writing, Memo, letter to a newspaper editor. Certainly one of these! And we know how to present all these in writing. We know what markers want to see in all of it.
A’ LEVEL LITERATURE: What a fascinating learning time we had! Thank you the following students for making my presentations lively. You participated actively and beautifully. Some of you ooze intelligent sparkles of depth and insight. Especially Chengeto Nyambuya (my assistant or shadow teacher)!You have an infectious passion for Literature! Then Hazel Jojo (I nicknamed you the war veteran)…. What a unique and pleasant girl to teach! I loved your seriousness of purpose yet intelligent depth of thought, particularly your cryptic but intelligent remarks.
I saw a lawyer in you as I was teaching you and guiding you. Aim that high please! Then Lee Chinyanga, Cerntaine Chapwanya, Vaida Samujangu, Cynthia Chitehwe, Ronald Ndarangwa and Courage Dore.
All of you remember to master the skills I imparted. You were taking down notes. In PC (the unseen passages type question) follow the seven stages I taught you intelligently. If a question is not open and asks you to pay particular attention to specific literary items, please do so. Pay particular attention to those but don’t forget to do the obvious: Remarking on the title, the situation, the movement, intention and finally and most importantly making an intelligent well-supported judgment.
This you do very briefly, just in passing. You don’t pay ‘PARTICULAR’ attention.
In appreciating or analyzing poems, don’t forget some have a second layer of meaning; a hidden meaning, like HAWK ROOSTING which appears to be like a simple poem(story) about a bird called a HAWK. No, it is not! It is a deeply political satire or allegory. So watch out for these extended metaphors or symbolic pieces! Parables if you were thinking of the Bible and how Jesus taught ordinary followers sometimes!
I will see you next year, by the grace of God when hopefully we will have more time together and well before final examinations. These skills are best given to students still in the school, say Form 3 and 5, or to completing students in the first term. They need ample time to practice these skills and knowledge.
I hope Mr Mandioma and other school heads take note of this advice. Third term consultancy is more like crisis management and not the fairest for students. Students need time to put to practice what they learn, especially new ideas and skills… not experimenting in examinations. No one can master skills when the final examination is two or three weeks away? Food for thought!
THE JOURNALISM or CURRENT AFFAIRS CLUB
What a great idea! The English Department must guide the ‘journalists’. Don’t underestimate the benefit of such a club. Members quickly develop and sharpen their verbal communication in speech and writing. There are no better tools of learning for every learner. I will give you the support, may be even basic ‘training’ you need in this initiative, I can promise you. I will publish your stories and articles on my education columns in The Manica Post. Let us keep in touch.
VOLUNTEER STUDENT CATERERS
These girls volunteer to serve food to visitors in the school, during seminars, meetings and workshops held at the school. They are so smart and organized, and HOSPITABLE I couldn’t help being fascinated by this little group. This is important space for students, especially the girl learner to experience leadership and voluntarism. These traits are embedded in these girls now and will help them to grow into responsible adulthood. And responsible adulthood is a critical aspect of good citizenship, is it not?
THE HEADBOY AND HEAD GIRL.
Most schools have student leaders. I know Knowstics Academy doesn’t believe in student leaders and prefect bodies. They believe every student is a leader. No student is above another and if one can lead in a certain aspect of school life, let them prove it by doing it…and they will be recognised and rewarded for that. Fascinating way of looking at student politics, isn’t it? I invited the school head on radio to discuss this interesting way of school administration. I have failed.
Tried not one or twice; several times without success! I hope one day soon the directors and administrators of Knowstics Academy will be willing to share their wisdom with the public especially other school administrators and managers.
Andrew Samupindi, Emmanuel former head-boy is a pleasant young man, already oozing leadership skills. While the rest learn books he and of course the head-girl and the prefects learn leadership as well. That is what education must do. Teach life, not just books; teach real life skills applicable in real life.
Exactly what education policy makers have finally learnt and chosen to impart through the new curriculum. We wish both the transformers and those who will be transformed by this new curriculum all the best in education.