Greece, Day 11: Let It Be

Wednesday. Two days of teaching left after this. Time is accelerating rapidly, it seems like.

Lesson Plan 8

First Hour

  • (Teams) Shots: Representatives from each team must complete a task correctly (ex. complete a sentence with a given word or explain the meaning of a word). They receive one point for doing so. They then have the opportunity to shoot a ball into a basket for 1-3 extra points, depending on the distance that they shoot from.

Second Hour

  • Chain Spelling: back by popular demand, this is a repeat of the game we played last week.

Third Hour

  • Writing task: ask the students to write at least five coherent lines about what superpower they would like to have and why. Prize for seven lines.

Fourth Hour 

  • Free time

Shots turns out to be quite successful, as we anticipated, spurred on by the competitive spirits of the many athletes in the room. Many of the actual shots are unsuccessful, mind you, but the students complete the sentences proficiently and have a great time lining up and trying to sink three-point shots. We originally start out with tennis ball-size balls, but offer the kids the option of using a larger ball about a quarter through the game. They seem to prefer that option.

During the recess that follows, Sam pulls me out of our classroom and leads me over to Kimberly and Chet’s class, grinning secretively.

“They were drawing what they want to be when they grow up during first hour,” She tells me, “You won’t believe what one of the kids drew.” Having done a future aspirations-related segment as well, I’m bemused. There hadn’t been anything particularly shocking when we did it. The “wildest”aspirations we saw were some of the kids wanting to be NBA players. If that even counts as wild.

“Here, look,” Kimberly shoves a piece of paper toward me as I enter, her face red with laughter. I stare.

The first thing that I see is the naked female body. A man is standing over the body, hands outstretched. I blink once, then twice. It takes me a minute to realize what this picture is actually depicting. I burst out laughing.

“I can’t believe he drew that,” I exclaim, “And that he already knows that he wants to be a gynecologist.”

“It’s all his dad,” Sam says, shaking her head ruefully, “He’s a gynecologist, if you didn’t know.”


Second hour passes by uneventfully, and we head into the third hour. Our original intention is as stated in the lesson plan, but a sudden thought occurs to me. I change the plan on the spot. Sonny looks on as I write on the board, curious.

‘Why do you come here?’ I write. Pause. And then, ‘What’s happening in Greece and how does it affect your life? Write whatever you know.’

Since I’ve been in Greece, a proposal by the European Union has been turned down through a public vote and a new deal is now in place. It offers Greece tens of billions of dollars in bailout contingent on several requirements, including its Parliament passing tax, pension, and labour reforms by July 17. The times are tumultuous and I wonder how much of this is reaching the children.

I’ve also given a lot of thought as to the reasons that the kids come here. I do try to dispel the notion that the students only come when forced by their parents from my mind, because there is definitely evidence to the contrary (see: Giannis in the last post).

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None of the students wrote anything that indicated in any way that they were being forced to attend by their parents. Learning English, making friends, and playing games (it seems they do enjoy some of what we do!) are the primary reasons that they cite for attendance. Let that serve as a source of encouragement for future volunteers. It can be hard to keep all that in mind when the students are being extremely loud and acting as though they would rather be anywhere but there.

And what of their knowledge of current events in Greece? Well, the class seems to be split into two sects: those whose parents don’t tell them what’s going on and those that have a grasp of what’s happening.  The term “economic crisis” pops up on several papers, actually. I’m impressed.

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Some muse that they spend more conscientiously what with the crisis. Others say that their families haven’t really been affected by the crisis all that much. And then there are responses like this:

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That particular response comes from a girl that participates regularly in class and is always smiling. During first hour recess, she offers me and the other teachers and students a delicious pound cake baked by her mother.

“Thank you for your response. Take a sticker,” I tell her upon reading it, and she goes off, smile on her face. I want to talk to her about it, probe her thoughts and emotions. But what can I say that’s appropriate? And even if I knew, communicating it is yet another challenge. I say nothing more.


“Make sure to hand in what you wrote to me. No recess until you do,” I call, standing at the door. One of the boys- Jimmy- tries to pass me by. I stop him. “You haven’t answered the second question [about Greece’s situation and if it’s affecting your life]. Go back to your seat.”

Groaning, he goes back to his desk and gets out a paper and pencil. He hunches over his work, pensive. When I pass by about five minutes later, he pushes his paper toward me. I take a look:

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I want to know more. I want him to write about whether or not he had ever overheard his parents discussing the situation. And were his parents employed, by the way? Had he seen anything on the television? We look at each other for a moment, then two.

“Good. You can go outside,” I tell him. He darts out, excited.

Sometimes you have to know when to let it rest. There’s only so much pushing that can be done in one hour, and we had already pushed them hard enough with the questions we were asking. It’s hard to remember that they really are only children sometimes. It’s the circumstances, I suppose. Many of them are in a far more difficult situation than myself or any of my peers were back in Canada at the same age. They should know that they have to push themselves hard in order to learn English and to qualify for university and to get a good job and so it goes…

But every child deserves a childhood. So go out and play, Jimmy. We’ll push some more another day. We’ll learn some more another day. For now, we’ll just let it be.

~A

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