I am writing this from a backpackers in Mbabane in between watching a rebroadcast of the The Grammys. I am in town for the weekend to edit and compile the Swazi Sojournal, the monthly newsletter for The Peace Corps. Sometimes it really pays off to have this gig although it takes me away from site and from Addy for a few days. I also realized that not much has changed in eight months. People spending an inordinate amount of time and attention to marginally talented people. Although, Adele’s Grammy sweep of multiple awards has only been legitimized by how much Swazis adore her. I catch our bosisi singing along to her every time Addy plays her on our stereo (our laptop).
Things have been going quite well for us at site. Both Addy and I have been incredibly busy; a nice change of pace coming off an extended holiday season. School is almost a month in and things couldn’t go better. I have devised an ingenious (I think) way to control classroom behavior without resorting to corporal punishment; not that I haven’t thought about it from time to time. I thought that instead of spending all my time correcting bad behavior I would try to concentrate on rewarding good behavior. I created a chart with each class represented. I explained that at the start of every class they received five points. In order to keep these points they would simply have to be quiet and good for the entire class. Every time that I have to stop the class to correct behavior such as talking or disrespect towards another classmate I remove a point. The goal for each class is to reach 66 points. When they reach 66 points we will have a party or activity of their choosing. The students want everything from a day where they wear funny clothes, a singing/rapping day and a day where they can tell jokes and play sports. We will see how that goes.
Having a goal that the class is trying to reach collectively has amazingly been effective in encouraging good individual behavior. The classmates are diligent in policing each other and ensuring they reach their goal. At the end of every class I anonymously pick one student who embodies good behavior, write their name down and stick it in a jar. Every month’s end I have a drawing from those names in the jar. The winning student receives a prize and a letter sent home to their parents highlighting their child’s good behavior at school.