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PEN Teacher Series : Meet Moses Bentum

· Humans of PEN

We are proud to share the story of teacher Moses Bentum’s journey with PEN. Moses teaches science to students in JHS 1 - 3. He attended a PEN workshop in 2016 and his students' performance has improved since then.

For years, Moses struggled with teaching STEM at a public school in the Accra region of Ghana. The teaching was abstract and the students were taught to perform mindless memorization using outdated textbooks. It was clear to him that few, if any, of the students understood the concepts behind what they were learning. Sometimes he tried to take the students to the lab that he worked at as a part-time job, or buy the materials to teach the students himself, but funding at the school was tight and his teacher’s salary was never enough. Uncertain where to turn for help, he began to feel disheartened. 

But in 2016, Moses attended his first PEN workshop– and everything changed. After he learned how he could use common household materials to represent abstract scientific concepts, he had found a breakthrough. The students loved manipulating things around them– oftentimes they would go home and tell their parents or friends about what they had learned, or even return on Saturdays because they were excited to perform more experiments. His favorite to show them was the neutralisation reaction, where students are able to taste the saltwater that resulted from combining an acid and a base. 

“Now they know that when an acid reacts with a base, the result is always salt and water and they will never forget that”. 

Over the course of his teaching, using hands-on pedagogy, his students’ grades had shot up significantly.

In 2014, I had nineteen (19) students, and only six (6) out the nineteen students had an A in science. In 2016 after I had attended the PEN workshop, fifteen (15) out of twenty-five (25) students had an A, and the rest had Bs.

 Moses still teaches with the PEN approach today, and he has since organized two workshops of his own in order to educate his peers about the benefits that using the PEN approach can bring. 

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