November 14, 2005

thinking about work too much but having a good day

going to sleep last nite, my last thoughts were all about work. not only that, they weren't good thoughts.

i was thinking about some of the local people I work with here and how some are being a bit slack or not taking the job seriously enough or that they need to work harder or be more motivated. i was thinking, right, tomorrow maybe i'll have to lay down the law (in a gentle way).

along with these thoughts were the counter-thoughts - doubting my rights to impose a western work ethic on this mob or that i'm too tough on them when they've come a long way and continue to learn and worrying about if i rock the boat will people turn on me (or will i make this place as inhospitable as certain "learning" institutes next door to me).

but regardless, today at work, when i felt the first few hints of skiving, i felt my cranky face coming on. but i didn't need to worry because today was a good day. maybe i didn't need to be explicit about my concerns of these guys' work ethic. this mob aren't stupid and can easily respond to the things that are not being said.

so today, some special things happened. after nine months of working here, my wawa used the computer for the first time. pretty big event i reckon. he's 50 or so and not very literate, so i reckon it's a pretty big thing. but i wonder if it's pure or slightly perverse, to get so much joy from showing someone how to make letters appear on the computer, how to use a space bar and how to delete a letter and then watching them concentrate for the next half hour on typing six sentences. well me, i was proud of my wawa.

that was just after my baba, who can use the computer reasonably well, typed up some Marra verb declensions, which is also quite a big step to be starting doing more abstract language work that looks purely at grammar.

and last nite, when i was thinking too much about work, i was thinking about how i need to start pushing these guys harder to learn to read and especially write, their languages, so that they're not dependent on me all the time. so, after doing some writing activities, my mami told me to give her a spelling test. i was already thinking would be a great thing to do but wasn't sure if these guys would be ready or receptive. so good on you mami.

i gave her and my wawa 20 rembarrnga words to write down. my mami got 8 right and my wawa got 5. on the one hand these are low numbers, but on the other hand, to have these guys writing down language (instead of copying) and taking chances on spelling words they're unsure of, well, that's pretty significant. i reckon a year ago, they wouldn't know where to start.

so it was a good day.


Laraba said...

Well done Greg!
You're a star - you can be proud of yourself!

Jhuny said...

Very big steps indeed. And so nice to hear, coming off from the Hodgson Downs news.

Catalin said...

Sounds like a great day!

It's funny how we don't expect people to like tests, but people who are learning something because they want to often do like a chance to see (or show) what they can do.

Give me a call if you want to talk about some simple ideas for teaching spelling (they work for any language).