Teaching in Tanzania (Blog 2)

I return in my mind again to Tanzania, where I was teaching two weeks in November/December 2017 in the University of Dar Es Salaam. The campus area of the University is large and green.  Big fig trees among other trees form the beautiful environment. We walked many kilometers every day, when we went to teach to the different places in campus area. Our apartment was also located in campus area, and it was called “research flat”. Sometimes we saw vervet monkeys or striped mangoes in campus. In every morning I woke up, when a bird was singing very loudly. A bird had a whistling sound and it started exactly at 5.28 am! Our lessons began daily at 7 o´clock. Beforehand the teaching time seemed too early. However, taking into account the climate and warmth, the starting time was actually really good.

The curriculum of physical education in the University of Dar Es Salaam differs a lot from our Finnish curriculum. In Tanzania, ball games, such as soccer, tennis, netball, basketball and table tennis are taught abundantly to the students. There is no dance, body and mind -methods or motor learning, for example. According to the curriculum, the ball games should also be taught in schools. However, the challenge is that most schools do not have for example tennis courts or table tennis rackets. That is why we tried to give some ideas, how to teach different kinds of sports without “real” equipments or courts. We discussed with the students, what could we use as the rackets or how can we play table tennis without tables.

The students were sometimes a little bit confused of our “Finnish” teaching methods. They were used more to teacher oriented approaches than students oriented methods. However, the students were eager to learn new skills and pedagogical approaches.

In the end of our teaching period in the University of Dar Es Salaam the physical education students asked me to teach yoga. Yoga is something new in Tanzania. It is possible to try yoga for example in private clubs, but the lessons are too expensive for the students. Some students were curious about the background of yoga. Is yoga religious? What kind of philosophy is beyond of yoga? Sometimes the same questions are also present in Finland, especially in schools.

I would like to return to Tanzania to teach, because for me this kind of collaboration is fruitful. I´m sure that I learn as much from the Tanzanian students than they learn from me.

-Mariana Siljamäki-