June 2021: At Thekwane High School, we somehow managed to do enough last year for the school to get a 100% pass rate at A-level and 89.5% at O-level. Sporting and other co-curricular activities remain banned so ‘Jack’ is becoming ‘a dull boy’. Two new classrooms are being built and two big tents have been set up so that the classes are less crowded. I am still teaching Mechanical Mathematics at A-level (trying to encourage more of our students to follow a career in engineering) and Statistics at O-level (because Statistics is everywhere these days).
I have been looking after the Hillside Circuit website for quite a few years, but last year it suddenly gained a new importance and popularity when we had to stay at home. Since the end of March 2020, I have been posting Sunday worship items and other online material on a regular basis. Not many of our members have good internet access, relying on rather expensive and slow mobile data, so I don’t put much video content. It’s difficult to cater for the Sunday School, but I sometimes put quizzes or other pencil and paper activities. Not many people have computers and printers either, so that puts a limit on what can be done. We are back to physical church services now, but attendance is very low compared to pre-pandemic. I am planning to restart Sunday School this month on the basis of “let’s see how it goes and then decide how to continue”.
May 2020 and we are ‘in lockdown’ and have been so for a few weeks. We are managing alright, just the two of us. We worry more for the children and for my mum, all in England. We are watching far too much television these days and much of it is BBC news and ZBC news, neither of which is very encouraging.
Well. Before all this started, I was going to work at the crack of dawn on Monday mornings (in winter that’ll be before dawn cracks) and coming back home once mid-week and then again for the weekends. I am still teaching at Thekwane High School and currently specialising in O-level Statistics and A-level Mechanical Mathematics and we seem to be getting on quite well. There are signs that we will encourage more students to do Mechanical Mathematics and hence more of them to go into careers in engineering. The school continues to progress in terms of academic and sporting achievements, but struggles to balance the budget, like the whole of Zimbabwe.
Sunday School at Hillside Methodist Church was keeping me young. We have about thirty or more children attending on an average Sunday. I try to vary the activities as much as possible from week to week: drama, quizzes, puzzles, reading, writing, games, movies, drawing and colouring and other activities. We have recently started having Music Sundays from time to time with a leader who plays the piano, teaching the children some new songs.
So. How’s the ‘lockdown’? We are doing the gardening and housework. (I should really admit that Isabel is doing most of it and I am helping, I suppose.) We are not going anywhere except for shopping for essentials about once a week.
I am now a member of the Research and Publications Team in the Hillside Methodist Circuit and I am responsible for keeping the circuit website updated, which is more important now that church must be more online since we are not allowed to meet for the foreseeable future. We saw an explosion of interest in the website on Palm Sunday and I am trying to respond to that by making the website relevant to current conditions.
I have also set up websites for each of the classes I teach at Thekwane so that I can at least provide some learning materials for my students while schools are closed. Nobody knows when schools will go back to normal, but it is likely that those classes who are due to do their external examinations at the end of this year might go back first. Meanwhile, we will try to keep the schooling process going as far as possible.