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-

Teaching in Tanzania (Blog 1)

I had very interesting two weeks working in Tanzania in November/December 2017. This was not the first time to go to this beautiful and charming country: In February 2017 I worked in Mtwara situated in South of Tanzania. In that time I taught local teachers with my colleague Arja. Our teaching was a part of Empowered Girls Speak Out –project organized by LiiKe  – Sports and Development -organization. The Education Through Sports (ETS) project was established in one the most remote areas in Tanzania like in Mtwara, Lindi and Singida. In these areas the national statistics showed very poor performance in primary schools, especially for girls. Since the projects were established, their national rankings have risen remarkably.

In November/December 2017 I went with my two Finnish colleagues to the University of Dar Es Salaam. LiiKe – Sports and Development was also organized this journey.  LiiKe is a Finnish non-governmental organization established in 2001. The main purpose of the organization is to develop the lives of children and youth living in developing countries through sport and health education. Sport is the main tool used in all the development cooperation projects that LiiKe establishes together with its counterparts. The organization has played a significant role in building and developing the education path to become a professional in the field of sport in Tanzania. Together with the University of Jyväskylä a Master Degree Programme is being established to the University of Dar Es Salaam.

What did I learn in Tanzania while teaching local young physical education students? Our common spoken language was English. The students´ first language was Swahili, which is a Bantu language. Although English is generally used in schools, it was not easy to everyone to understand instructions and teaching in English. Some students were quite timid to speak English, and they told that they are afraid of doing mistakes. I also noticed that my English; words, expressions and pronunciation differed from local way to speak. Fortunately, in physical education it is possible to show movements and games through bodily expression, and this helped a lot of our common understanding.

During two weeks we had some memorable and even fun situations while teaching because of environment related expressions. My colleague spoke about “a hamburger model in physical education”. Some students were confused, because they didn´t know, what is a hamburger. There are some restaurants in Dar Es Salaam, where it is possible to eat hamburgers. However, many students come from countryside, and they are not familiar with this kind of food. In addition, expressions like “ice breaker” or “tip of the iceberg” were not familiar. It is really interesting to try to adopt these kinds of expressions to different environment, where the sun is much more present than ice!

-Mariana Siljamäki-

EMI and how to teach heterogeneous groups?

In the 4. session of TACE we talked about EMI and what should we take into account, when we teach our subjects in English. To whom and why we should teach in English? I think that these are very important questions. We also discussed about the pyramid model, which included students, teachers, institutions, policy, language, culture and pedagogy. Of course, all the models are often oversimplified, but our task was to improve this model. Our team had an idea about an inner circle, where students, teachers, institutions and policy were represented. Around the circle we had five squares including resources, language, culture, content and pedagogy, and in one square there were differences. Differences can be individual or institutional. The issues in the inner circle interact with previous things and vice versa.

One observation in our common discussion was, that there are some students whose English language skills can be excellent. However, their subject knowledge or skills are not necessarily good. We can also have students, who don´t speak English so well, but they understand better written and spoken language. In addition to this we have so many other things to consider while teaching. What kind of interaction is suitable between teachers and students? What does it mean, when students have different types of educational cultural backgrounds? One example came up to my mind today, when we discussed about this subject. We had a course, where one teacher trainee student taught physical education in a school. Some pupils of the school class were used to very authoritarian educational system. Teaching methods of our student were not familiar to these pupils. For example, a group work was new, and some pupils thought that teacher is lazy, when (s)he doesn´t teach “properly” in authoritarian way. This example reminds me, that we can´t keep anything as “a norm” as teachers.

Mariana Siljamäki

Culture – what does it mean to me?

Sometimes it can be difficult to see, what kind of significance do cultures have in our everyday life. For me culture – or cultures – are not abstract entities, they rather become realized in many ways in different situations. In our lecture we talked about how “people culture”, and it is a nice example about realizing cultures. Culture becomes very much true through people. I like the idea that culture is a system of shared meanings. Shared meaning systems form culturally constructed societies and groups, and the encounter of these meaning systems produces dialogue between them. Culture can be seen e.g. as “the Finnish” culture, ice hockey culture or food culture. And within these cultures we have so many subcultures.

People culture, but culture can also build up person´s identity in many ways. Cultural identity can simultaneously be both similar and different from the dominant culture. My idea is that a person´s identity can have many imaginary homes and more than one “home culture”. We are not bounded only to one single place. For example, a Finnish football player can experience that Finnish culture is very important to her/him, but (s)he also belongs strongly to the global football culture.

What comes to the Finnish culture, it is hybrid in many ways. For example, one of our “national dances”, Jenkka comes “originally” from Scotland and Germany. We eat a lot of pizzas and pastas, which come from Italy. The music culture has been inspired by the styles and instruments of many cultures. Many of the sports that we are engaged in, come from different countries. Cultures are very much in dialogue through people.

Mariana Siljamäki

The use of technology in physical and dance education

My field of expertise in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences is dance and physical education. I also focus on how could future Physical Education teachers be better prepared to work in increasingly diverse education environments. Meeting individual needs in physical education is a course that explores inter- and multicultural education. In addition, I teach some other courses and supervise master´s thesis.

How do I use the technology in my teaching? Here are some examples. First of all, in dance classes the Spotify is very practical. I use my mobile phone to play music from Spotify, and I share my music lists via Whatsapp for our students. I also encourage students to use the Soundhound or Shazam, music recognition systems, when they choose music for their own dance lessons.

I take videos in my lessons, when students dance and perform their own choreographies. These videos are for the students to analyze their skills and developments. Students can also use the videos to memorize e.g. steps of tango and other dance forms. I put all the videos to Moniviestin.

For me, Optima Learning Environment, is to share the lecture slides, articles and internet links. Students also put their learning diaries to Optima. When the University of Jyväskylä finish the usage of Optima environment in the end of this semester, I start to use PedaNet environment.

The professor Jukka Louhivuori has developed a new kind of music/dance mat. One of my students makes her master´s thesis about usage of the music mat in dance education. In the future it would be interesting to use the mat also in my own teaching!

– Mariana Siljamäki-