A lesson with Prathom 5 this afternoon meant playing yet another barely comprehensible game with them on the field.
However, this time I think that I may have been able to understand it. Let’s see how far I can get with an explanation.
The game is called ‘What Is He’ and involves one student being blindfolded and standing in the middle of a circle. The students making up that circle then rotate around whilst singing a song from their workbooks.
As can be seen in the lyrics, the song eventually decides that the ‘he’ in the title is a fisherman and the student in the middle is asked if he will eat a live fish or a dead fish. I have no idea where this fisherman assumption comes from, but trust me, just go with it.
From what I can gather, if the student says they’ll eat a live fish, they then have to walk to someone in the circle, blindfold still attached, and work out who they are by touching their face. If they get it correct, that person is then blindfolded and sent into the middle.
If they say that they will eat a dead fish, the circle students runs at the blindfolded kid in the middle and try to grab them, whilst blindfolded kid has to try to grab someone who is running at them. I think.
Ok, so maybe I haven’t got this one as nailed down as I first thought, but considering I spend most of my time during these games trying to work out what is going on I’d say it’s an improvement. They’re fast becoming the best parts of my teaching week though, mainly because they’re entertaining to watch, and the one pattern I have noticed is that all of these games seem to end with the kids running around and tripping over each other. I wonder if that’s intentional.
Watphachi School have a policy in force at the moment that requires each teacher to visit a certain number of student houses and interview their parents. This evening marked Bubpha’s turn to undertake interviews, so I went with her as she visited some of the homes of students, ranging from Prathoms 1 to 3. All of the houses we visited were down the same street as the school so we didn’t have to walk very far, and as well as having too many drinks handed at me during pretty much every house visit we made, I got to see some notable contrasts in the backgrounds of some of the schoolchildren.
The questions Bubpha asked the parents were fairly standard; mostly they were about how their children travelled to school, and how much English work they did at home. As she was sitting down with the first three houses we visited I noticed how clean and spacious their front rooms were, mostly containing modern furniture pointing towards widescreen TVs and large Buddhist shrines on display to the room’s side.
Eventually we made our way round the corner from the school and into the Phachi temple grounds, where we visited several houses that I hadn’t even noticed during the other occasions I’d visited the temple. These homes definitely weren’t examples of extreme poverty – they had roughly the same facilities that I have in my schoolhouse – but they were a notable contrast to where we’d just visited only slightly up the road. The metal sheet roofs and slightly run-down look suggested that these were more shacks than they were houses – Bubpha told me that they were owned by the temple and that the residents paid 100 baht a month as rent – and the one room I saw in each house consisted of only a double bed which took up most of the area.
I guess interviewing parents with completely different home backgrounds, as we did today, may provide some interesting differences in their answers about the school and their children, which was probably the intention with these home visits. Regardless, it was an insightful, if a little jarring, look into the divides of wealth that exist within the families that send their kids to Watphachi School everyday.
We were caught in the beginning of a thunderstorm as we walked back to school and ended up sheltering in one of the hallways for a while. Chao Qui the stray dog joined us, as it turns out that he’s actually a complete pansy and is scared of thunder, so I watched as he tried to hide under chairs rather than lay out in the open and sniff around me until I gave him attention.
He seems to like me a lot now, and since I’ve got into a habit of fussing him when I’m lounging around outside he’s started following me everywhere. Infact, as I write this I can see him from the gap in my door, as he’s sleeping on the top step of the schoolhouse. At least I know he has my back.