Saturday, April 07, 2007

Teach your children well

Teach your children well
7 Paths
#102, February 15, 2007

Occasionally I wonder how 7 Paths e-letter readers apply what they learn in their work. I caught a glimpse recently in a conversation with Heather Munn.

Last summer Heather taught about 40 AIDS orphans in a summer program in a one-room schoolhouse in Jos, Nigeria.

When she finished teaching in the summer school she began to teach literacy classes which opened her eyes to an issue she had been reading about in Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development.

Education is valued very highly in Nigeria and yet there is a shortage of teachers. She realized that there is a treasure in Nigeria that is not being used--literate mothers who have less than a high-school education but could teach their children to read.

Because these mothers are poor they assume they cannot teach their children to read. As Heather described in one her e-mails last fall, “They know they are not "Educated People". And only Educated People can teach. They believe they are incompetent and helpless in the area of education. They believe that only teachers teach, and teachers are trained in a teacher-training school; they, unqualified, untrained, cannot hope to teach.”

Heather created a program, Teach Your Child, to address this issue. She set up a class to teach four mothers how to teach their children to read.

Recently Heather, back from Nigeria, stayed with Sarah and I over a long weekend. She had been reading the 7 Paths e-letters and realized that she needed to use the smart and friendly systems path to create Teach Your Child. She created “track sheets” that described each step in teaching your child to read and allowed mothers to track their child's progress. For instance, track sheet three instructs the mother how to use the Simple Words Page. At the end of the instructions the mother is asked: . “Can he read all the words easily and correctly?” and the mother circles: “No, Still learning, or Yes.”

Shortly before returning to the states Heather did a seminar for fifteen people, teaching them how to run Teach Your Child classes.

Heather isn't done with creating smart and friendly systems for Teach Your Child. She plans on using the open source model, posting Teach Your Child on the web so that anyone with access to the web can download the materials and Teach Your Child materials and even add to the materials.

If you'd like to know more about Teach Your Child, you can e-mail Heather at

Wisdom for the week: Use smart and friendly systems to produce your treasure.

Fare thee well, Rich

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