They say if you want to be an expert at something, do it for 10,000 hours. I feel like I have sang the same songs for about that long….oh yeah and every song has a very active dance that goes along with it. Last year was all about how to incorporate music into preschool in Nicaragua. It seems really easy: give them kids music in Spanish. If only it were that easy. Changing an education system that has operated a certain way for hundreds of years takes time and energy. The schools here have been operating in survival mode, doing to best they can with what they have. Many of the teachers (and adults in general) had childhoods filled with experiences many of us can only begin to imagine. Instead of memories reading books, playing at the park, or going swimming, they tell me about dictatorship, fear, death, war, violence, abuse, starvation, sickness and natural disasters.
People continue to suffer from the trauma of the past and poverty, abuse, nutrition are all still real problems facing Nicaragua today. But somethings have gotten better. For example access to education has improved immensely. More kids have the possibility to go school today in Nicaragua than ever before in history. This is really important because approximately half of the population is under 18. Not all kids go to school and the schools are at maximum capacity. The school system expanded very quickly, under very difficult circumstances and faces many challenges. They don’t have enough trained teachers and its not a desirable profession. Why would someone pay money to get a teaching degree when they will earn so little they will live below the (Nicaraguan) poverty level? Most teachers have high school diploma, but some don’t and all of the teachers are products of the same struggling education system we are trying to change. So to ask them to do something that has never been done before (sing songs they don’t know and dance with little kids) it is asking them to step out of their comfort zone. It requires them to step back from the authoritarian role and overcome their embarrassment, not to mention the logistics of managing a class of 40 kids who are singing/dancing.