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Just a few weeks left to help these kids

Thanks to marketing departments, motivational speakers, life coaches and team builders, many of us have picked up an annoying habit of reflex positivity. Problems are 'challenges.' Obstacles are 'gifts'. We reflect on the good things which never would have happened without this disaster, etc, etc, etc. Of course, we have to. What else are we going to do, in the end, but get on with it? Still, a few moments of sympathy and commiseration are warranted. Let me just say, then, that 2020 has been rough. In fact, there is a great Afrikaans term, synonymous with human waste, three letters, sharp and palindromic. Got it? That's been 2020 for most people.

One of the uglier features of this unfortunate year is that most of the super wealthy got even richer through the chaos and devastation. The income gap, already horrible, has widened. There are no doubt many complicated reasons for this (many of them structural and not malicious), but here’s an image which maybe gets to the heart of it:

Just a few weeks left to help these kids

People who already have resources can cope better, so their advantage is extended and entrenched. The relevant ‘challenge’ in South Africa is data. It is consistently more expensive than most African countries, and (surprise, surprise) the poor are worst affected because cost per megabyte is highest for those who can’t afford bulk bundles. It is all very well for the government to send out these video lessons and internet resources but the kids who need it most, have slow, unreliable internet and can’t afford the data.

This is why Dr Derek Fish, director of the Unizulu Science Centre, invested so much effort to generate an offline solution for their Paper One Matric Workshop in Physical Science. The South African institute of physics, with the support of Alan Gray employee philanthropy, have distributed thousands of his booklets and memory sticks to 100s of schools around South Africa. I am writing this now, so other learners can also benefit. (There is still a bit of time – paper one will be written on Friday, 20 November 2020). You can download all eight hours of video lessons and the correlated student books from the SAIP website:

It is really worth getting this out to as many 2020 science learners as possible. Derek is a world renowned science educator and this particular workshop has evolved over decades. It is hard to explain why his teaching is so effective, so again I will try use imagery to get to the heart of it: the six screenshots below. In these you can see how Derek identifies an essential question area and uses familiar examples and special techniques for conceptual learning. He then runs simulations, a hands on live experiment, and finally brings it all together for the additional exam questions. This is high impact instruction and can make a profound difference. But please don’t take my word for it. Check it out and get it out. Please. To as many needy learners and schools as you can. We only have a few weeks left to help those who need it the most.

For more info please contact me az.oc.trep@retep.

27 Oct 2020 13:46


About Peter Horszowski

For a better way to teach