Queen's University

Student teachers' work in Africa, Jamaica provides amazing experiences

 
2010-05-07

Queen’s is one of the few universities that offer education students the option of teaching in a developing country.

 

Erica Frischkorn spent several weeks teaching in Tanzania, Africa.

Queen’s University Faculty of Education student Erica Frischkorn was surprised at how much she could teach students in Tanzania, Africa in a run-down classroom packed with lots of students, few desks or text books, and no electricity or running water.

“What really hit me was how easy and fun it was to work with limited resources in the classroom. You'd be amazed at how your creative skills come out when all you have is two pieces of chalk and a well-used chalk board,” says Ms. Frischkorn.

Queen’s is one of the few universities that offer education students the option of teaching in a developing country. This opportunity is part of the alternative practicum experience offered to students in conjunction with an elective course. About 170 out of 740 students this year did an international practicum in a range of settings including international schools and government school systems. From that group, eight students went to Tanzania and nine students went to Jamaica to teach in challenging surroundings.

The experience helps students prepare for the future because not everyone will end up teaching in a traditional classroom where every educational resource is at their fingertips.

“It’s not a Bachelor of Southern Ontario Teaching. It’s a Bachelor of Education. Experiences like this broaden a student’s view of education,” says Alan Travers, Education Career Services Coordinator. “As teachers they will encounter all kinds of situations and this helps them prepare for it.”

Student teacher Stacey Lima says her trip to Trelawney, Jamaica was an “amazing experience.“ The students and teachers had few resources so she learned how to do a lot with very little.

Most of the Queen’s students were there for roughly four weeks in March and April. A few years ago, the Queen’s students raised $2,300 for the school and this year they collected $14,200 – all of which went directly to helping enhance teaching and learning in Tanzania.

Michelle Searle, a PhD education student who travelled to Butiama, Tanzania, says almost every text book in that town has a Queen’s University logo stamped on it.

“We are improving things but it’s just not enough. We know we are just scratching the surface,” she says.
 

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