I came across one of those quirky, cultural differences, type dodgy moments at school today. I was trying to explain the word ‘scattering’, and the first thing that came to mind, was that in Britain we scatter a person’s ashes. But, it suddenly dawned on me that I have never heard of anyone talk about cremation in Georgia, and this would probably not fit in quite the same with the memorial supras where people visit the gravesides.
It is such a normal thing to do in Britain, and was something I hadn’t thought about before, and I wasn’t entirely sure how to explain this to the children, without it sounding completely awful. I could imagine the conversation going along the lines of ‘yes children, in Britain we burn the bodies of the people who have died (our loved ones)’. And the following reply to the question ‘why’, would probably be ‘because it saves space, because our graveyards are overcrowded, and its more hygienic’, or because ‘people are afraid of their bodies being eaten by worms and maggots, so they prefer to be burnt instead’. oh yes, ‘and because it is much cheaper’.
Surely, most normal people would come up with the idea of ‘scattering crumbs’ or ‘scattering seeds’, but no, the first and only thing I could think of was scattering ashes!!!! So, instead, I asked my co-teacher whether there was such a thing as cremation in Georgia, and left it to her to give the translation instead!!! Such a coward am I!!! But it got me thinking. I would love to hear about any similar situations that other teachers have found themselves in at school!
Underline, Underline, Underline
So, I have basically been brought up in a world where we were ALWAYS told to underline our work, but today I came across another cultural difference between Britain and Georgia. Not only do Georgians not have Capital letters in their written work or language/alphabet, but they also never underline and have never been told to do so. This was such a surprise to me, as its the one thing I would always lose marks for as a kid, and was always in trouble for (I am starting to think that I was secretly a Georgian all the time!). Now I understand why the children always do what I considered to be ‘half a job’ with their written work, and I couldn’t understand why they put so much effort into their work and making it look beautiful, but never underlined anything. Now I understand though, and every class has now been told to underline when they hand in work to me…because I am an evil teacher:)
Its such a simple thing, and I feel tough for being hard on them, and for raising the bar recently, but I also think its good for them to know these things, especially as I know many of them want to go to university in Britain or America, and if they are dealing with foreign countries in the future, they will be frowned upon for not meeting the classical essay or dissertation template.
We also had a bit discussion about how to structure essays, and how to write a paper (sadly I am one of those people who doesn’t practice what they preach!), but its better that they get used to these norms now, rather than later. It also really amazes me just how far we have come, and how much progress we are making together, and I am excited about what the future will bring. We had the most amazing class today, with everyone joining in and we also did some drama which the kids clearly enjoyed. It was a huge honour and privilege to hear from them (in English) that it was their favourite lesson so far!!!!
Fast Cars and Racing Drivers
So, I would like to add a disclaimer here, that I am not responsible in anyway at all for any of the children at school who drive ridiculously fast around Tbilisi when they grow up! It is really not my fault. However, if they become racing drivers and are millionaires, then by all means, I will be happy to take their money and to take the credit:)
Last lesson, my fourth grade were learning about kilometres per hour (from a British text book, even though Britain uses MPH or Miles Per Hour!), and they had to draw and describe their dream car. So I decided to up the ante a bit and today showed them a clip from TopGear, a popular British television series about fast cars. Most of the kids already watch this on television in Georgia, but they were really excited to see the clip in class, and it lead to a really great discussion about cars afterwards, especially from the girls, which was a little surprising!! They were really, really excited, and I think there will be a few racing drivers or car designers from the class when they are all grown up!