2 March 2011 – One Person Helping One Person

Sometimes the big picture is so impossible to change that I get frustrated but last week and today in the computer lab I was reminded of why I called my blog One Person.

Last week Eric and I took Form 2 into the computer lab. We were teaching them about dragging and dropping. Eric began to question the students. One student gave a wrong answer but (for the first time ever) Eric found something right in the answer. Told the student that he was getting there and then asked other students to help him with the answer. Since I have been here I have been modeling this behaviour in the classroom. It was very gratifying to see my Ghanaian counterpart using it.

Eric asked me to help him in the computer lab with his primary classes. They too would work on dragging and dropping. Class 5 was the second class of the morning. It was a small class so each student had their own computer. (Note Ghanaian teaching involves harsh words and sometimes the cane. Please remember that this is the model with which all Ghanaian teachers have themselves been taught.) Eric started belittling one girl, I’ll call her Beatrice, saying “This one never does anything. She knows nothing about the computer.” The boy next to Beatrice, I’ll call him Kofi, said “Madam, let her sit with me. She can’t do it.”

I told Kofi that Beatrice could do it and there was no need for her to sit with anyone.  Eric told the students to open the EPP computer skills program from the desktop. This is a very cool interactive program that Eric purchased here in Ghana. I like it because the examples and activities are related to Ghana so the kids don’t have a cultural divide to cross when also trying to bridge the information gap. After the lesson the students were to drag and drop names of ICT tools under the correct picture of the tool.

While walking around I saw that Beatrice was having trouble with the mouse. I went to her and explained dragging and dropping. Then demonstrated. Then I put her hand on the mouse and mine over her hand and guided her in moving the names for three tools. She then clicked the arrow to the next set of four pictures to identify and I walked away to a cry of “Madam!”

When I got back to her computer she had successfully identified the next four tools and moved to the final four. I patted her back and said “You have done well.”

The last part of the day was to make eight puzzles telling an Ananse story called Ananse and the Pot of Wisdom. This required very precise mouse skill to make the pieces interlock. Beatrice was struggling but she kept trying. I went to her a whispered “Don’t ever let anyone take the mouse from you again. You can do this!” Her smile made my day. Maybe even my week.

Ananse stories are traditional Ghanaian folk tales with a wily spider as the protagonist. Here’s the Ananse story from the puzzles.

Ananse and the Pot of Wisdom

Ananse is a very special spider, well known for his wit and wisdom. He lives like other spiders, in corners and on ceilings. The tricky thing about him is that he looks no different from other spiders. In fact, he may be the very next spider who comes your way.

Everybody know that Ananse was wise, for he boasted loud and clear. In his high-pitched voice he laughed at fools and spoke louder than everyone else.

One very sunny day, Sky God called Ananse up to the skies to have a chat.

“Without a doubt,” Ananse said, “of all the animals you created, there is none as wise as I.”

Sky God said in a quiet voice, “Could you do some work for me? Go about the earth and collect all the wisdom for me. When you have brought t up to me, I will name you the Sage of All Time.

Ananse hid a smile. “That’s easy, sir,” he said. “I will be back in three days with the wisdom of the world.”

Now, Ananse, as selfish as he was, had already traveled the length and breadth of the earth and collected every shred of wisdom. He kept it all in a giant pot in his secret hiding place.

He slid down to his home on a fine woven thread he took a rest in the shade and had a lazy day.

They next day he started out to take the pot full of wisdom to the Sky God way up in the skies.

It was a huge pot and very heavy. As Ananse tugged it behind him, he was more than filled with pride. When others asked to help, he would say in a stand-offish way, “This work it top secret for a very high official.”

To get up to the skies where Sky God lived, you had to climb a tall coconut tree that grew beyond the clouds right up to heaven. Ananse stopped to consider the best way to carry his load. He could not carry it on his head because he needed all his eight arms to creep up the tree. In the end he strapped the pot tightly to his back and made his way slowly up the tree.

From afar everyone saw his clumsy figure scaling up so slowly. They knew he was going to meet with Sky God himself. The people gathered under the tree to watch him make his way. And all the while they wondered what he had in the giant pot.

Inch by inch Ananse climbed. he was looking forward to the fame his great feat deserved. Meanwhile the sun moved slowly across the wide sky.

Just before sun set, he paused and carefully wove a web to keep himself secure.

He could hardly sleep at all that night. He was so exited!

A day break Ananse woke up and continued to climb. A greater crowd was gathered below, waving and cheering him on. He pressed on, never mind his aching muscles. He had a appointment in heaven, and he as going to make it there.

Higher and higher Ananse kept up the pace, until the light of the moon reminded him to take a rest.

That night he dreampt he wore a crown given him byt the Sky God himself. On it was written “The Sage of All Time.”

Another day passed and a very tired Ananse was near the end of his journey. Below, the crowd let out a cheer.

It was a great moment for Ananse and, as pride filled his chest, he raised all his arms in a victory wave.

It was a shocking moment when he plummeted down to earth. He hit the ground with a band and the pot broke in to a million pieces. Wisdom scattered right and left, to the very ends of the earth.

Ananse lay there in a heap, sobbing his heart out. Whet he had worked so hard to collect was now out of his grasp. Now everyone and every fool had a little bit of wisdom. He could not claim that all wisdom was his alone.

Then Sky God whispered in his ear, “I gave you eight arms, Ananse. If you really had all wisdom, you would not have waved them all.”


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