Thursday, August 2, 2012

GED Prep?? and musings on education in Haiti

One of the things I've been doing is working with Patrick on his written english and GED prep. Turns out I know a lot of answers to grammar questions but don't always know the actual rules or reasons... so it's been interesting (and sometimes frustrating) trying to figure out the best ways to explain things to Patrick. The poor guy is very studious and loves to learn, but he's got me, struggling to know how to best teach him basic grammar concepts and prepare him for the GED. Ha. We've been Googling around for practice questions and things, and we've found some stuff, but I have yet to come across an actual full practice test. The time limit is clearly going to be an issue, unless Patrick can get a lot of practice in first and get a little more confident... I really hope my muddling-through will help him! We've spent quite a few hours on this in the last few days or so, and he's always pumped to do more work, read books, etc. So if any of you know anything about preparing for or taking the GED, especially when english isn't your first language, let me know!! Also, apparently the GED varies somewhat state to state, and Patrick is taking it in Georgia, but we've only found some "GED practice questions" that say nothing about what state(s) they might be relevant to. 

There really doesn't seem to be much in place to help people like Patrick succeed... Some of the questions on the GED aren't so much about english, but about knowing those little symbolic things that only American kids would grow up knowing. (For example, there was an old political cartoon that centered around Uncle Sam... without an explanation or a little background, Patrick didn't stand a chance of answering the questions about what the cartoon meant, and Sarah hardly even knew what to make of it!)

It's been interesting hearing Sarah talk about education here in Haiti. It's extremely common for people to be 5 to 10 years behind where they should be in school; for example, Danaelle and Dada (15 years old and 6 years old) are both in 1st grade. It happens because people miss years or parts of years, or don't do well because they have little to no support system, or they switch schools and for whatever reason aren't considered to be at the same level... Very little seems to be standardized, as far as education goes. Also, at the end of this school year, Danaelle did ok (she got about 75%) and Dada just squeaked by (about 65%), but Sarah said that Dada doesn't even know how to read, while Danaelle does. The grading isn't even standardized between students in the same class. 

On that note, another of Sarah's future projects would be to get a group of teenage girls together and have a youth group of sorts (they'd all be a support group of peers and friends for each other, and then do activities together). Sarah (or OTP) would purchase unfinished houses around town (there are a ton of them) and then teach all the teens how to fix up the houses. They'd make some money, and then learn a ton of skills that have to do with building houses/furniture, painting, etc. It's not unheard of that the single, simple skill of knowing how to paint a wall one color is a man's single marketable skill; if these girls could learn so many skills, not only would they be able to do a lot more than your average person, but it would also empower them as young women! Cool, interesting ideas. Something as basic as this could provide more education that a lot of people normally get.

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