I believe the stem of all solutions come from education. For instance, if you are trying to catch a fish, it is easier if you are taught. When you have learnt a skill, it will be then passed onto the future generations. Each generation has their own problems which they solve, they master and then teach through a plethora of ways. The Utopian Earth is with all people educated, all people aspiring to be the best of themselves.

I was in full time education until I was sixteen years old. I went to normal public schools and managed to get good qualifications. These qualifications led me to train and work as an engineer in the Royal Navy. Towards the end of my service, I was able to mentor the new engineers in how to do our job. This is when I found my passion for teaching, being able to pass on information from myself to another is a great feeling. One to one mentoring is a great way to learn and teach. It’s very personal and any intricate questions can be answered in a tailored way that helps the student understand.

When I went to Uganda I was teaching in both classrooms and to the community. This was a great learning curve for me! The techniques used in one to one mentoring can be quite different compared to a class of above seventy teenagers!

I knew being the only white person in the classroom I had to be somewhat animated in order to motivate the students. I learnt a lot about patience and adaptability in the classroom and found the British way of teaching and learning is not the same in all countries, particularly Uganda! I understood that these students are learning in a second language so its important to be patient and have multiple explanations prepared in the event of confusion. The age range was mixed in the class between the ages of twelve to eighteen, so this enforced the idea of adaptability in conventional classroom teaching.

In the high school (St. Johns Apollo) I taught mainly Sexual Education and had to do so in an acceptable way due to the socio-political views of the people and government. I used this to my advantage, I was able to manoeuvre the curriculum into practical, theoretical and game-like formats instead of the textbook outlook.

The timetable given to me left much to be desired. I had been assigned the less favourable periods in the day. I recall spending time trying to settle the students down before the lunch period and trying to motivate them at the end of the day. Whilst being aware that students valued some lessons over others it was important that my presence was still there. I had two classes ages between twelve and sixteen and sixteen to eighteen. The younger age group had approximately seventy students and the older class approximately thirty.

Also, in Uganda I worked in the community. This was a mixture of ages, as young as five to as old as sixty. This included, single mothers, severely disabled and gang members. I assisted with the preparation and planning of the sessions because most of the community did not speak English. Most of the topics covered regarded business skills and employability as that is what the community leaders requested. I really got to know and bond with the community in Uganda and see the personalities of students and teachers there. It reminded me of my school days and what I think are important qualities for a teacher. I spent approximately three months in Uganda, I did a lot of learning as well as, working on a pineapple farm, writing an article on education and planning my next moves.

A few months later, I had found another opportunity to work in a high school in Honduras. I took all that I had learnt from Uganda and I was able to implement that into the new school (Cofradia Bilingual School). Having the previous experience made me feel so much more relaxed and able to communicate to the students and mobilise them easier.

Mainly, I had two classes: grade nine (ages fourteen and fifteen) and grade eight (ages thirteen and fourteen) each with about twenty students. Although the age difference was similar the maturity levels differed massively. I took different approaches to both classes because of this but taught the same subjects. Grade eight enjoyed a more outlined schedule and grade nine preferred more independent learning.

In both grades I taught a range of different subjects some of which were controversial, these included:

  • Self-confidence and self-awareness
  • Sex and gender
  • Christianity
  • Basic engineering
  • Business and employability skills
  • English language and literature
  • Sexual infections and how to protect yourself
  • Poetry and pronunciation
  • Fire safety
  • First aid

Often as a reward, the class could have a period of sport or art with me too.

I felt the class sizes were much more manageable and the range of teaching was fantastic. The students felt very comfortable around me and shared their issues with me, in one instance this was bullying, which was addressed immediately. I often spent my time during lunch speaking to different students so that I could practice my Spanish and they could practice their English. At some stage, I substituted for all grades ages from four to eighteen. I believe it was most challenging with the grades two and three due to their hyperactivity and small concentration ability. This was handled with compromise because they still had a good level of understanding.

When I was comfortable in the community, I found a church that provided English lessons to the less affluent children that was run by a local church member. We teamed up and had many students eager to learn. The level was much lower to that of the school but it was an honour to have worked with the community and I hope that the English club still runs today.

 A few students of the school had asked me for one to one tutoring which was my pleasure to do so. This was guided by the students themselves and mainly involved practicing conversational speaking, analysing music and looking at the differences and similarities between multiple cultures.

My time in Honduras was approximately three months (cut short due to Dengue Fever) and on my return home I had been accepted to The University of Hull to study Business Management and continue my education. Whilst this does not begin until September, I hosted one event of youth work in the UK teaching Spanish, this was stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through my experiences, I know every student learns differently and every teacher, teaches differently. I love teaching and the fun that everyone can have. I love meeting new people too. I intend to do these together after my degree because global education is the key to success.   

Andrew Beacock 13/06/2020