Rest of first week, curriculum project

Photo: Girl with notebook, Ccotatóclla

The first week of the curriculum project was a mixed bag, as can be expected. On our third day of implementation, I went to each classroom excited to work with the kids on describing things by putting their hands in the mystery box.
There were no teachers in the classroom, although the kids were there and eager to get to work. The youngest and most energetic teacher came by to ask me to teach class in her absence since the 2nd-3rd grade teacher was desperately ill and needed her attention.
I worked in her class for an hour and managed to get the kids to write words in Quechua about the five senses and illustrate them. We did not get as far as the mystery box. Many o f the kids asked me questions in Quechua I could not answer.
I moved on to the 4th and 5th grade class and we had a lively discussion about the five senses; we then had kids put their hands in the box and describe in Quechua what they could sense with their hands. All the descriptive words went on the board along with my instructions to write a paragraph describing the living things we had discovered in the schoolyard and described via the mystery box.
The kids dutifully copied down the words and the assignment, but not a single one wrote a paragraph. I asked if they knew what a paragraph was. No one answered.
I went on to the 2nd and 3rd grade class and again was greeted with great enthusiasm; the kids loved the mystery box game. Yet again, no one wrote any descriptive sentences at the end of the game.
None of the teachers taught their classes that day.
The sick teacher recovered and returned to Cusco with her baby. The other two teachers cancelled class for the next day due to a festival they wanted to attend. We got on a bus together and rode to a town two hours away for this special religious festival.
So much for our first week of the curriculum project.
Kids in rural schools are often ready to work, while their teachers are not. It is easy to blame the teachers, but is anyone actually paying attention to them or their professional and personal needs?
Sometimes this situation reminds me of educational settings I know intimately in the US.

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