Why we focus on the basics

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As the first term comes to an end, its easy if not tempting to get through all the topics I had originally set out to cover. However, its times like these when it's necessary to take a step back and reflect on what the objective is and what our mission is at Exponential Education.

At first, we budgeted our time around a 10-week curriculum, but between teacher strikes, demonstrations, and impromptu sports days, 10 weeks turns out to be more like 7 or 8 weeks (as if we didn't have enough to cover in such a short time). This time-constraint conundrum presents the current situation that I alluded to earlier: Do I try and cover all the topics or focus on a few?

I received the answer to that question just this past session when one of my Form II JHS students said "But this is Form I stuff, we are in Form II. We should be learning Form II things." The expo peer-to-peer tutoring program puts us in an interesting position. Some teachers complain that we are there to do their jobs and that because we are from America we think we can do better.

Fact is, we are not here to do their jobs but rather to reinforce what they have already taught their students. My JHS student is correct in his frustration that these are things that have already been taught. They already know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. They know fractions and decimals. They know parts of speech. But when you miss 3 weeks of classes for a teacher strike, another few days for demonstrations, and then sports days, it is impossible to cover all these topics thoroughly.

When their teachers have to address the same conundrum, they have to move forward because just like my Form II student inferred,they aren't supposed to be doing those topics in Form II or Form III.

As the term nears its end and I am presented with my curriculum situation, I reflect on what I set out to do with Expo. I am not their teacher, but I am here to help them reinforce their basic knowledge and skill set. So, even if I cannot cover all the topics this term, their midterm evaluations show that it is important to focus on the few. I look forward to seeing how much they have improved at the final examination.

Ryan Newton is a first-term program associate for Exponential Education.

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