White River - South Africa - Education

The classroom is a sweltering 41oC (106oF) this afternoon, with not even a hint of wind from the open windows to bring relief. With drops of sweat running down his forehead, the teacher points to the words he has written on the chalk board and the children recite in unison “the ball is red”. They continue, “the dog is brown, the dog chases the ball.” At a cursory glance, it might look like the young children can read well. However, if one probes deeper, it becomes quickly evident that the children have only memorized the words and have very little understanding of what they read. Without understanding how to read, these children will likely not make it beyond the early grades of education.

Thirty-two educators and volunteers from various missions around White River recently gathered to equip themselves to combat that problem. Anne Herbert, Mercy Air Education Outreach Coordinator, organized a workshop in which participants learned how to use rhymes, songs, and movement to teach children conceptual ideas, in place of rote memorization. Kate Durandt, the leader of the workshop and author of “Rhymes and Songs for Children”, led the educators in a full day of singing and dancing that make teaching more effective and more enjoyable for children of all ages.

In Anne’s words, “Kate inspired and ignited new enthusiasm and passion, equipping them with many new ideas that they will transfer to the vulnerable children and orphans that they are working amongst.” These teachers have already begun applying these new teaching methods and their students can’t wait to learn more!