Monday, March 26, 2012

A Pop Quiz tests volunteers and students alike!

Kok Gniew Village students
One of the challenges, and what also keeps it dynamic, interesting and ever-changing here in Laos is the last minute nature of the way things are done here.  You kinda get used to it and learn to roll with the punches – it’s all part of cultural differences after all – and it was no different last week when the GVI volunteers on the Children’s Program showed up to our newest teaching site, Kok GniewVillage Primary School, and were suddenly asked to do a test with the older students! 

Never mind that we had full lessons meticulously pre-planned and didn’t have spare time, nor that we hadn’t prepared  test questions, or have much direction as to how it was going to be conducted!  Nevertheless, GVI staff and volunteers in the 2 classes came up with 5 test questions based on the work we’ve been doing with the kids for the month or so we’ve been working there and wrote them up on the board.  GVI Staffer Sam has a bit of test writing experience – we’ve had to do a bit of it lately at our schools. 

GVI Volunteer Seamus presents the test to the village students
Interestingly, as we found out, although we gave the students instructions in broken Lao and in English, with demonstration, they still weren’t really sure how to do the test.  It became clear that not only were they new to learning English but also a new way of learning and also testing.  Designing exams/tests is a bit of an art and apparently the way it’s done in the West differs greatly from testing methods in Laos. 

The test went ahead and of course we confronted the issue of cheating – another cultural difference where cheating is a totally acceptable and normal part of schooling :)  It’s not really cheating, just being resourceful!

So the tests were marked by volunteers, and the results varied widely – from 10/10 to 0/10, partly due to the testing methods and unclear instructions it seemed.  Never mind!  It was a learning process for both parties and next time we’ll know a little better and may even have some more warning.