A rather unfortunate principle that I've heard fellow missionaries express, and have found very true for me, is that whenever we have the most exciting things going on to write about, is the time we write the least, because we're too busy! So, what tied me up last month? Deciding I'm going back to Africa, and getting things ready for that! Those of you who get my newsletter know that already (and by the way, you can subscribe by clicking this link), but it's time to update here, too.
I've shared here and here about the curriculum I've been developing for primary school kids in Africa. The official name is "Learning with Computers for Primary Students" because it's not just learning about computers or in general how to use them, but using them to improve their learning in multiple areas. I saw an article recently on how adding computers and now tablets to schools has been a $60 billion hoax, and I agree with its thesis--screens in a classroom where there is already a poor educational approach only makes things worse. But with the right teaching principles, they can be used as successfully as the first computer school Anthony started years ago, because they provide fresh opportunity to use the principles that make for great education. It's the teaching, not the tech, but our ministry has over and over been able to use tech as the opportunity to get to the teaching. I've now been requested to come to Nigeria to present this educational program at two symposiums, helping school staff understand how to use it to disciple their kids and improve their education overall.
My travel dates are October 27-November 17. I sent in my paperwork for the visa a few weeks ago, but it can take up to two months for it to be issued, so please pray that the visa comes in time. In the meantime, we also need discernment about what I should take with me (more about that and our equipment quandaries later), and for how I should spend my time. I had a lady helping me develop the next phase of "Learning with Computers," (I have it ready for grades 3-4; this would be for grade 5), but she is no longer available. I also had been working on a desktop publishing course as an elective for the CTO. And I have a couple of more recently developed programming courses to edit and update. So, figuring out which should be my priority right now is my challenge. I'm leaning toward the grade 5 one, but hesitate a little because I'd like to see what I've already developed in action and get feedback from teachers first.
There's a lot to wonder about. Christie told me that the success of the program will likely depend on whether the schools send to the symposium head teachers who have the pull to implement it, or lower-status teachers who may love the program but not be able to get it going. Also, there's still the concern about the economic crisis in Nigeria. The computer centers are struggling to get a consistent supply of electricity. And so often when we go over, things seem to go well, but then misunderstandings or the communication barriers kill what we started. We have learned a lot from these experiences that has helped us strengthen and refine our training (which is a major reason we are seeing such good progress in Tanzania and Zambia), but dead-ends from the past are still enough to make me wonder, will it work this time? Still, I think the only way it can work is for us to keep our connection alive, which includes time on the ground, to talk and pray in person, to see their work and their struggles and actually stand in the classrooms where they teach to understand what we're dealing with. We're praying this may also be a time of real discipleship, especially with Emmanuel, who is teaching the CTO in Kwoi, with Ruth, who teaches programming and who Christie thinks will be valuable in developing TEN3 education, and with Gideon, who has begun to teach the CTO in Gombe. I really want to connect with these people and let them know that we're here for them, want to help them succeed in what God has laid on their hearts.
One other note: I'd like prayer for my health. I got sick about a week ago, and even though I only felt really bad one day, and all the other symptoms are gone, fatigue has lingered. I can sleep for 8 hours and feel like I only got 4, take a nap in the day to try to perk me up, and then still be worn out by 6pm. So I'm falling behind in a lot of things, and it's likely to get worse as my husband is being asked to work extra days, so house work that he would normally take care of might have to fall to me.