“ What do you want for yourself from this trip to Zambia?” Paulette, my therapist asked me.
After a brief pause, I answered. “To learn about myself. That’s it. The one thing I know to be true about me is that in order for me to delve more deeply into myself, to do the kind of inner-surveying that I believe it takes for me to become a better form of myself, I have to be taken out of my comfort zone. So, that’s what I want.”
“Are there any more expectations? Any agenda that you might have?”
“Well, I am going as an education consultant and coach. So, I know the expectation is for me to in some way share what we call best practices in the schools. However, my experience as a coach has shown me that this idea of best practices is something that I am not comfortable with. At least not in the ways in which they are often presented here in the US. In my opinion, best practices are the ones that best fit the ways of knowing and being of the community in which one serves. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share ideas and strategies. I know I’ll do that, but coaching is about walking alongside someone. Seeing them. And having the two of you brush up against each other in a way that both people walk away smarter. Changed. Better. So the best practices that I will be sharing will be totally in-line with what the teachers and students of the schools show me. They will be determined by what the teachers and kids teach me about them.”
As is usually the case, hours after my conversation with Paulette, my thinking continues. And it goes something like this:
- Which Westernized education practices best align with those in Zambian schools?
- What about Chronemics? How is time seen and used? How can we learn from this, especially in predominantly black and brown schools, here in America? (CP time is a real thing, ya’ll!)
- What about things like handwriting? Is it more important in a school where written communication is more likely to be shared on notebook paper than from a computer?
- How is the teacher seen? What does this say about the community?
- What about rites of passage? Communal accountability?
- What is the role of the greater community and how is that made manifest in schools? What can we learn from this?
- What will this experience teach me about blackness?
I’m sure I have more questions rolling around in my head, and I know that they won’t all be answered in three weeks. However, I will be sharing my reflections on the above questions as well as new ones during my time in Lusaka, Zambia.
So, to go back to Paulette’s question: What do I want? I want to experience the miracle of growth and change, and I am excited to share this journey with you.
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