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The Liberian Ministry of Education

July 6, 2021
AUTHOR: COLIN TAUFER

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6° north of the equator

The day is winding down, dinner soon to be served, the day’s blog is being written.

To begin, a word about our hotel, officially known as the RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas. This is where Tim and I are staying and where the first three daily workshops are being held. It is located a short drive from Jay’s house, making it extra convenient. (Fun note: It is where the crews for Air France and Brussels Airlines overnight after their long Europe to Africa and back flights. You hear a lot of Dutch and French spoken in the dining lounge.)

RLJ is located right on the Atlantic, though the hotel tells its guests not to swim in the ocean. Its currents are too strong, waves too big and erratic. The views from the grounds are stunning and lush.

Proof of its lushness…

Proof of its stunningness…

Pool and ocean view…

View from the beach chair. You can make out the ocean if you look past my toes.

All of this is to say, this is a nice place to have a workshop and that’s just what we did today.

The group we worked with today was from the Liberian Ministry of Education. The general outline of the day’s proceedings went like this:

-Tim welcomed the group and got the ball rolling.

-Jay opened with his usual personal and passionate appeal to our guests to realize the full potential for change they have in their hands as educators. The question he used to get them to REALLY look was the simple, profound, and philosophical: “Is life fair?”

Jay is excellent at interacting with his audience and pulling from them meaningful replies and heartfelt answers. No shallow yeses or no’s allowed here. He left them primed for change and this is where I took over.

-I used the presentation I created for the class I delivered at AME University in the summer of 2019. While I can’t match Jay’s natural word flow of mixed American Engish and Liberian English, called Koloqua, I did my best to keep it lively and useful. In part, this means lots of gesticulations and moving about the room and acting out.

Wearing Tim’s clothes that are a few sizes too big added to my energy. I was constantly adjusting my clothes, pulling up my pants, tightening my belt, tucking my shirt back in, wiggling my toes in my shoes, etc. And, of course, I wore a mask the whole time, which meant more adjustments on my face. Early on Tim whispered to me that I looked frantic. (I was.) Eventually, I settled into the least uncomfortable arrangement, cinched that belt VERY tightly, and pressed on.

(By the way, as I write this it is Tuesday night, and my luggage is still not here. It should arrive with tonight’s late-night Brussels flight and be available tomorrow for pick up. So, I am on day four of the shorts/t-shirt/sandals ensemble.)

But what’s important is the workshop and all things considered, it went very well. My lesson plan outline went like so…

• What does “study” mean?
• Why do you study?
• What does “Applied Scholastics” mean?
• Student attitude
• What is a barrier? What do they think some barriers to study are?
• Definition of “mass” (the thing you are studying or a reasonable substitute)
• Effects of studying without mass
• Solutions for lack of mass
• Demonstrations, sketching, clay demonstrations,
• What it means to study gradiently
• What “skipped” means, including this little teaser…

• What happens when you don’t study gradiently and how to fix it
• Definition of “misunderstood”
• How this passage changes when you have the correct definition for all the words:

“The kite flew high in the sky. It looked beautiful and graceful as it dipped and soared. It must have been hungry and looking for its dinner.”

• And how the Liberian pledge of Allegiance changes when you understand all the important words: pledge, allegiance, republic, indivisible, liberty, justice.
• The lunch menu was African food which is greens with chicken and fish over rice. And, truth be told, the greens were spicy, the chicken was spicy, the fish was spicy, the rice was not spicy. Needless to say, I did not garnish my food with the spicy sauce offered on the side. Liberians like their food SPICY!

It was during lunch that Tim met with the senior official in attendance, Marwolo Bongolee, the deputy minister for student services for the national Ministry of Education. This evolved into an agreement to meet with the office of the Minister of Education on Friday. The goal being an agreement in the direction of teacher training on a larger scale. Stay tuned!

The best part of this good fortune is that when Marwolo was in ninth grade, some sixteen years ago, he rose to become a youth leader as part of Tim and Jay’s Youth for Human Rights program. In other words, the seeds for this fortunate meeting were sown many years ago by Tim and Jay. Amazing!

After lunch, with the little time we had left, I introduced the 24 Characteristics of a Genius and the Genius World project and website. With Jay’s help, we covered three characteristics: KNOWLEDGE, CURIOSITY, and IDEALISM.

Giving Jay the opportunity to talk about IDEALISM to a group of educators was a perfect set-up for a rousing finish.

Our first day of workshopping is complete. Tomorrow we’re presenting to a different group with a focus on more advanced material since they are more familiar with our material.

Just as importantly, tomorrow will be the day MY LUGGAGE ARRIVES!

Author: Colin Taufer

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