I am constantly faced with the dilemma of to do or not to do those damn stupid things that teachers have to do.
For example, today, the teachers have been slaving away on writing report cards, which include a section of character assessment. The teachers, from their interactions with the students, judge the students' diligence, responsibility, and even personality. These nine categories include respect for teachers, likes student leaders, and participates in sports. After years of neglecting this job, the Saba Saba teachers have finally decided to complete this task, and as a part of the character assessment, each student was interviewed.
The following questions were repeated many times.
"Do you play sports? Why don't you play sports?"
"Where's your chair? Did you lose it somewhere?"
"Do you like your student leaders?"
Of course, in my mind, it seems perfectly okay to say no to any of these questions. What is so wrong about not playing sports, or not liking some asshole student leaders? Plus, if a student was street-smart enough, he could easily present himself as a student with stellar characteristics.
Ah, I digress. This rather pointless activity lasted for the whole day, and will continue to do so for the next two days. I sit, (shit), and I ponder, why are we doing this? If the students are not present for the interview, the teachers have a mini discussion, and award them Cs. With the interviews as arbitrary as the discussions on the absent students, why not just have a 30 second discussion for every student? At least the teachers can have time to eat that way.
During my time here, I've encountered many of these inefficient work, which receive little or no resistance. I've obliged to most of them so far, with the attitude that if I do likewise as the other teachers, I will earn their respect; and so far, I have. I have learned so much more about my students, the teachers, the TZ education system, and Tanzania as a whole by doing these menial brain numbing tasks. Plus many friendships with other teachers have been formed in the midst of these labor. At the same time, as I were participating in these tasks, I couldn't stop thinking, is this..... am I really (insert expletive) doing this? And I ponder to do or not to do.