Notes on teaching in Nepal

October 31

Finding the right connections with cultural knowledge is really important.

E.g. choosing Nick Kristof’s article about Sanduk Ruit was a hit. The older kids knew about him and were excited that they can use that knowledge in class. They’re also generally a nationalist lot so having someone to be proud of helps. And I was glad that I found someone other than their military leaders or Arniko.

Having access to the internet and visuals helps a lot. Especially when kids encountered unfamiliar words like cataract, trachoma or scalpel, photos and cross-sections of the eye proved really useful.

My ambition is to get to the point where we can talk about substantive things in economics, politics and perhaps some intersection with the natural sciences. E.g. I’d love to discuss Lee Kwan Yew’s policies or Mao and Deng Xiaoping. For the latter, despite the strength of Prachandra’s maoists in the parliament and their importance in Nepal’s modern history, I tend to get blank stares from most kids when mentioning Mao or Marx.

The school I’m at cares a lot about preserving Nepal’s culture. That’s not necessarily terrible and most teachers seem reasonably progressive. That said, I think the kids would benefit more from a focus on science, engineering, global history.

Textbooks are often bizarre. Note to self: scan some passages. Some highlights so far:

  • In their social studies textbook (which is a mix of geography, culture, politics), Europe gets roughly two pages and is described as a continent of busy and rich people who work so hard that they “don’t have time for festivals like Nepalis”.
  • Most textbooks contain serious mistakes in their English.

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