I’ve been visiting Nepal now for the past five years and I have come to ‘understand’ a few things about teaching and education here.
First, I think … teaching is teaching ~ and regardless of where one teaches if you have eager students it makes teaching very fun and rewarding. There are many eager students in Nepal as education is not a fundamental right here, but rather, a privilege, and many are denied the opportunity for education due to lack of funds/poverty, especially girls. Although I knew these facts…it’s become much more clear as I’ve been teaching around the different areas of Nepal this summer. I’ve been teaching students in class 9 and 10 how to write essays…they have standardized topics they may have to address on their final exit exams and many of them are about education in Nepal…so I’ve been hearing their stories first hand… it is shocking and heart breaking as well.
I have seen a tremendous difference in the abilities and habits of students who go to the Nepali public schools & those who are enrolled in private schools in Nepal. The schools that are run by ‘Western’ countries produce students who are able to read, write, and speak English with greater proficiency than others.
There are differences in classroom ‘norms’ ~ students in Nepal talk a lot in class (and this is true during business meetings too) it is not considered rude to the teacher or to others for people to flat out ignore and do their own thing. Personally, this bugs me a lot ~ and it’s very distracting while I’m teaching…I try to set the expectation at the beginning, but still sometimes, especially the boys (boys/men feel superior to women here…I think even to ‘the female teacher) so in the middle of teaching, I have just stopped and waited for everyone to ‘be quiet’. I have told students that in America if you continue to ‘talk’ during the lecture your teacher may ask you to leave the room. :X (I almost did this yesterday as a small group of boys in the middle of the room kept talking and we didn’t have much time to finish the lesson…luckily I did not have to!) MEAN TEACHER! :)
It is not uncommon for people to answer their cell phones in the middle of ANY activity ~ whether they are the principal of a college giving a speech, leading a discussion in a business meeting, or in the middle of a conversation at dinner…if their cell phone goes off… they answer it…and speak VERY LOUDLY …. when they finish, they just pick right up where they were… I still cannot get used to it… :X It shocks me every time…
As far as teaching at the University ~ I find that many teachers in Nepal teach verbatim from their text books ~ and instruction is direct verbatim from the textbook and there is very little interaction with the students. Students are not challenged to think creatively on topics nor are they required to interact with each other and explore ‘different’ ways of being. They learn all the theories verbatim and somehow I think believe that ‘real life’ looks like that ‘over there somewhere else’.
As I’ve been teaching it has been both fun and challenging to ask the students to ‘think’ creatively and ‘go outside the box’ ~ to imagine that the ‘text book’ merely gives us knowledge and ideas…but we must use our own creativity and insights to ‘put it to use’.
Students and teachers in Nepal are not used cooperative learning activities or interacting with each other during instruction…so when you try to use such activities in instruction they really do not know what to do… it feels very uncomfortable to them. :X
I definitely feel the bias against women while I am in Nepal ~ although I am a ‘white’ woman from the USA ~ I most definitely have privilege here but since I am a woman…I feel the oppressive energy as well. I feel close to the women here, and I feel inspired by the many super bright girls I’ve met in the schools I’ve been teaching in…I tell them to not give up and keep working hard for equality. Although many men here say they believe in women’s equality…their actions show otherwise…this is often the case…we believe something, but we must somehow believe it enough to see a change as well. (True for us all…I think)
Time orientation is a vast cultural difference and protocol during meetings, presentations, gatherings…. first of all… there is really no concept of ‘being on time’ for Nepal…it’s called “Nepali time”. Things happen when they happen… this was a little difficult to get used to for me…but now…I just make sure I have a good book with me and I wait. Men love to give very long speeches in Nepal and you can believe that there will be very long speeches given at any function… what is disheartening is that many people just ignore the speaker but that does not bother the speaker…he just keeps speaking regardless until he is finished. I do not speak Nepali so oftentimes I only imagine what they are saying and sometimes I will make up funny dialogue and quietly humor myself. :)
Teacher “F” word = FLEXIBILITY…this is especially true in Nepal where things move at their own pace and deference to status, sex, and caste are all in play at all times.
Another challenge to teaching and just living in Nepal are the environmental challenges ~ it’s difficult ‘living’ in Nepal because of the heat, rain, lack of electricity, clean water, and terrain. So physically it can be challenging. I am currently feeling not well…and that is hard to tolerate while also tolerating all the different cultural differences. :X
With all this being said, and I know, it seems like I am being unkind, I do not mean to be….these are just the differences that I have found…I know much of it is ‘cultural’ and I am coming from my own cultural bend… I get it <3 Overall, I love teaching in Nepal and I love working with teachers in Nepal as well. I feel we have a lot to learn from each other and I value that a lot. I also love to help those who want to help themselves...and there are plenty of enthusiastic young people and teachers who are in that boat!
just a few thoughts ~ <3 10 months ago