A lesson well learned in Twi class today...
by, 06-17-2008 at 11:45 AM (1347 Views)
A lesson well learned in Twi class today...
Today was my first day back in teaching Twi at D.L.A. in preparation for the school's trip to Ghana this year. I went to the office and before long I got into a discussion with Mama Wenny ongoing issues with one of my students: Belijah Carnes.
Because of all that's been going on with me (trumped up charges, baby on the way, moving, old apartment being broken in to k.w.k.) I missed two weeks going into the break and today none of my students showed up...well, except for one. Belijah Carnes. I was just speaking with some of the staff here and we were sharing experiences about how disruptive in class he can be. After trying everything from push-ups to time out I asked that he be put in the Bennu society or another class that focuses specifically on discipline.
Well today he walked in and proclaimed "See! You should've let me stay in class. I'm the only one who came back."
I thought about it and the Ancestors sent a proverb to me "Wosum bor¡de¢ a, sum kwadu bi; na obi nnim nea ¢b¢gu k¡m." - If you support the plantain tree, also support the banana tree, because no one can know when famine will strike. I explained that in Ghana, the plantain tree is a staple crop while bananas are just snacks. While both require supporting stakes to prevent the wind from blowing them down, there is a tendency to focus more attention on the plantain tree than the banana tree. I wrote the proverb and drew a picture of a man wearing kente in between two trees with support stakes.
He said, "So I'm like the banana tree cause you kicked me out."
"Yes, and you never know which one will be there for you when there is famine or a drought. That's the first thing you've learned since you've been coming", I said. I gave him some paper to take notes.
"That's cause Jumi ain't here. I only be sayin stuff that get me put out cause she be messin with me."
"Well, you're wise to understand that the proverb. You're like the banana tree. You reminded me of a lesson today. In raising children, a parent might give candy and sweets to the child who is well behaved and asparagus or something to the one who isn't. But later, say the well-behaved one gets diabetes and passes on, the parent might depend on the ill-behaved one who is healthy. In Twi we say, "'Banyansafo¡, y¢bu no b¢ na y¢nka no as¢m" - a wise child is spoken to in proverbs, and not in plain words. He wrote down the proverb and translation and drew the same picture I drew of an elder instructing a child.
"See I can learn stuff when Jumi and them ain't here."
I had heard it before but the excuse didn't hold water or pass scrutiny. As long as there were other students in the class regardless of whether Ælájùmækê (Jumi) was in class, he found a way to crack jokes and disrupt becoming the center of attention.
"Can I get some water?" he asked.
While he went out I was thinking about what proverb can help teach this lesson because this brother whose foremost talent was being a one-man in-class comedian that prevented other students from learning a sentence. But I saw he had a knack for understanding these proverbs. The Nananom (Ancestors) sent one: "Koter¢ nwe mako mma ap¡tor¡ ano nhye" - the lizard can't chew on pepper and make the frog's mouth burn. I started writing it on the board with the illustration of a lizard with peppers and a frog sitting by watching him.
He sat down and started taking notes. "Wote ase¢?" I asked him.
"Do I understand?" he asked.
"Aane", I said.
"Yeah, this one means people lie on you but they can't hurt you."
"Hmmm...what happens when you eat pepper?" I asked
"Your mouth burns" he replied.
"So you're saying that if the lizard eats pepper, he has to take responsibility for what he did and can't make somebody else's mouth burn for what he did?"
"Naw, cause...oooohhhhhh. I get it, I'm like the lizard because I can't blame it on Jumi because I was the one who did stuff and was acting up."
"Aane. Now the frog may have eaten pepper two days ago or may eat pepper two days from now...but for now if the lizard is eating pepper..."
"It's his mouth that burns. So I can't go blaming what I do on somebody else." Belijah said finishing my statement.
I walked over to his paper and wrote "Mo!* A+"
"This is the first A I got in this class."
"This is the first time you stayed long enough to earn it." I stretched out my hand and we shook hands. "Let's make a deal. You're welcome in this class, but you have to follow one rule."
"Not to act up and crack jokes." he ventured.
"No, TO LEARN...and not do anything that will prevent you or anyone else from learning." I had to add that caveat.
"Now, I know she'll be proud of you. Take your notes down and show them to Mama Wenny. And to the principal Mama C if she's there too."
"Okay." he said as we shook hands again and left for the office.
I thought to myself, "It's times like this that remind me of what I'm doing this for." ;D
*Mo translates to "congratulations"
This is a true story...matter of fact it just happened...but the names have been changed to protect the identities of persons involved0 Thanks, 0 Likes