No Playing, No Learning

A child in Darializa's English class proudly shows off her worksheet. Through our daily encounters with Palestinian children at TYO we have noticed a phenomena – children here have a uniquely large capacity for memorization. This led us to question whether or not children were thinking critically during their English sessions. We observed students could, for example, easily see the word “APPLE” and say “Apple!”, but could not write the word when prompted without visual cues. As is true for many parts of the Middle East, Palestine’s educational system “relies heavily on traditional means of teaching where students are silent receivers.” Our classrooms are a stark contrast from the traditional educational experiences most of our children have in their schools. Rather than encouraging our students to be “silent receivers” we ensure learning in ways they will remember: through art and play. Thanks to funding from the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, TYO is able to provide English education through various artistic mediums. Educational songs, clay molding of letters, and finger painting are just a few of the ways TYO promotes its mission of providing a positive learning environment. As children become more accustomed to this style of learning, they begin to ask more questions and think more critically. For example, a lesson on the letter ‘B’ through construction paper mosaics brought color, excitement, and a myriad of butterflies. It also lead many students to repeat the word “Butterfly!” numerous times throughout the lesson and shout “BUH BUH BUH!” with nonstop fervor. We recognize that among of the most important parts of any childhood are the experiences gained through play. Introducing difficult content matter into such a key part of our children’s young lives makes it very unlikely for them to forget what they’ve learned. TYO’s English program proves that learning a new language doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it proves that it never should be.

-International Interns, Amanda and Darializa

This program – as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) – is funded by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.