I have taught my first classes at my school, and they weren't a disaster! Which is in itself a relief. The school is about a 10 minute bus ride from where I live. It is small, both physically and in number of pupils (about 300). Today I taught personal pronouns to 11-12 year olds, and although I had no idea about the topic in advance, I think I managed to keep everyone relatively entertained. The kids were certainly fascinated to hear about where I came from, what it was like, etc. The teacher I am working with seems nice as well, and it's good to have her in the class to help a bit with discipline and as another pair of eyes. It looks as if my control over the subject matter taught will be limited, but I will try my best to make it relevant and interesting. To which end, I need to go and print out some worksheets for tomorrow...
But before I do that, something on the society that I promised yesterday and didn't end up writing. In this school, the major problem (so the English teacher says) is that most of the parents in the area don't see education as particularly valuable. Apparently, very few sh0w any interest in their children's progress at school. Economic conditions for farmers (i.e. most people in the area) are worsening, so they think that it is better for their children to help with the family work. Here there is no legal requirement for children to attend school. As a result, only 2 of last year's top year students went on to higher education. The rest go on to work.
There are some kids who come from Patabamba, a town in the mountains. They come on foot, and it is a 2-3 hour walk. School starts at 8, so they have to get up so early that by the time they get to school it's pretty difficult for them to give it any real attention. On a more national level, there are rumours that the government wants to privatise the entire education system, so that it is fee-paying.
I don't yet feel able to comment on what is good or bad about any of this. The situation is so different here from what I am used to that I can't judge anything.
From a non-educational perspective, there was one other thing I wanted to say. It was that watching Peruvian TV, you realise what a divided country this is (50% indigenous, 50% Hispanic). The TV programmes are clearly all made in Lima, and I have so far seen only one person on them who resembles the Peruvians I see every day here. There is a huge imbalance.