19 September 2008

How Do You Say Ojibwe?

So the first session of volunteering went well yesterday. I spent a little over an hour with these two 4th graders, O** and A*****, during the classes regular "language arts" time right before their lunch period. I guess I must have learned like this too, but I couldn't believe that a class of roughly 15 (this is a downtown charter school with kids from all different counties) was learning by listening to a recording of some patronizing woman reading the book - it just seemed so sterile. That said, I guess I realize teachers would probably like the respite to grade papers or, I don't know, do whatever teachers do when they get a free moment at school (call their husbands? Check their email? Go to the bathroom?)

Anyways, both the kids seemed to benefit from the extra, close attention (we read a chapter out loud together and answered some comprehension and vocabulary questions.) God I know their type: smart, easily drop under the radar so they don't have to think too hard which they don't need to as they'll get good grades at a 4th grade level no matter what. Looking back on it, it's not surprising that there were a few semi-awkward moments of contention: A***** didn't like being reminded to not read ahead while someone else was reading out loud (I think he just processes words and doesn't quite get the meaning) and O** was kind of flabbergasted when I pointed out she was wrong by saying that Nokomis, the grandma in the story, wasn't weary as she had answered but wary of the bears in the forest. Funny stuff.

This is not by any stretch of the imagination a huge commitment for me, but still a nice little stimulating do-gooder activity that is, in fact, quite interesting. Also, an excuse to be downtown which I love, and to have something yum and probably unhealthy for lunch with real friends and the occasional ex-coworker that I feel kind of obligated to stay in touch with from my former job (like yesterday: spicy chilli at The Loon with Jane and Amanda.) Obligation Chili: like Hate Potatoes but not as hard to choke down.