In my first full week at Moshaweng Secondary School, I assumed responsibility for the school newspaper. Apparently, sometime last year, a group came out to the school from town to workshop the learners on putting together a school newspaper. They produced one issue, but then everything fell apart and nothing's been done since. Well, now that I'm in control we have assigned staff positions (editor, sub-editor, photographer...), set deadlines (May 21st is the first), and organized twice weekly meetings for ten minutes after school and before the study period begins. While I'm really excited to be doing this, I have a few problems.
I know absolutely nothing about running a school paper. I was never part of Newspaper Club or anything remotely related to schools, news, or publishing. As the staff advisor, what exactly is my role? Without being too demanding or picky, how do I guide the students to better results? I tried to let them be creative with the title of our future publication. All they came up with was "Moshaweng Newsletter".
This leads me to my second problem. The learners don't know what they're supposed to be doing either! They've never seen a school newspaper before, some have never even seen a real newspaper. The blind really are leading the blind here.
The learners are also terribly unenthusiastic. I think this stems at least partially from the fact that no one really knows what they're doing, much less what they're capable of doing. The education system in South Africa does not reward creativity or thinking outside the box. No one here has ever heard of brainstorming. So, in order to up their enthusiasm and give them some ideas, it would be awesome if some devoted blog readers sent me a few copies of school newspapers for me to show to my students. Hopefully they'll feel less lost and more inspired. In the meantime, I've got cookies for our next meeting.
This coming Wednesday is my first meeting with the agricultural science learners. We're building (what else?) a compost pile.