Students will be students

It’s been a while since I wrote specifically about the MEET students, so I thought now would be as good of a time as any.

My typical teaching schedule looks like this:

Day Group Topic Location
Sunday Year 2 Flask Jerusalem
Monday Year 1 Python OOP and inheritance Jerusalem
Tuesday All Open Session (office hours) Jerusalem
Wednesday All Open Session (office hours) Nazareth
Thursday Year 1 Python OOP and inheritance Nazareth

As you might notice, we see each student 1-2 times per week, which is not a lot, considering that Shankha and I are here for only four weeks. Anyway, we’ve been doing the best we can to make the most out of each 3-hour session.

I’ve noticed that the students generally are not afraid to ask for help when they need it. In fact, they are so comfortable asking questions that sometimes they’ll forgo the process of reading the instructions and just ask me to explain everything to them. I guess one explanation could be that English is not the native language for most of the students. It’s still hard for me to imagine learning technical material in a foreign language, so I quite admire the students for their ability to do that. Also, some of the Year 1 students aren’t as familiar with typing English on the keyboard, which can be frustrating when learning how to code. Needless to say, these kids are real troopers.

For the students who don’t have any other exposure to programming outside of MEET, it can be quite difficult for them to keep up with the material. During the summer, the students live and breath MEET 24/7 for two whole weeks. During that time, they’re living in a computer science/entrepreneurship/deeper understanding bubble, which means that significantly more progress can be made on all fronts. Retention of new concepts during the yearlong program is much lower, which makes it hard on both students and teachers.

On a more positive note, however, it really is great to see how excited the students are when they see each other during class. Some of them even gave me hugs even though we just met last week. It’s a great community, which I think might be an even more important step toward achieving MEET’s goal of showing Israeli and Palestinian students what they can accomplish when they work together.

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