We caught up with one of our beneficiaries - Victor Benjamin Boateng - who attended a PEN workshop in 2018 and asked him how his PEN training has helped him in the classroom. Victor teaches Natural Sciences to students in Basic 4 - 6 and Integrated Science to students in JHS 1 - 3.
For years, Victor struggled with teaching STEM in Ghana. The teaching was abstract and his students were taught to perform mindless memorization using outdated textbooks. It was clear to him that few, if any, of the class members understood the concepts behind what they were learning. But in 2018, Victor attended his first PEN workshop– and everything changed. After he learned how he could use common household materials to represent complex equipment to explain abstract scientific concepts, he had found a breakthrough.
"After the PEN workshop, I realised that there are basic things one can use for these science experiments. I was enlightened that I can actually use simple activities to teach science. The activities were engaging for the students. "
The students loved manipulating things around them– and by using their hands, they remained engaged in the concepts he was teaching. It wasn’t necessary for him to use large, expensive equipment that would be hard for the school to come by.
But then, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Like every teacher around the world, Victor had to work hard to adapt to online schooling, and he initially struggled to keep the students’ attention. But then, he remembered the PEN approach’s ability to engage students in hands-on education.
"During the lockdown, I asked my students to do some of those experiments while they were at home and send me the videos."
By assigning students to perform and record experiments at home, he managed to keep his classes learning new concepts each week. Every day, he marvels at how the students are always excited to show their teacher what they have learned and demonstrate how their experiment works.
Victor still teaches with the PEN approach today, and he swears by the benefits that using the PEN approach can bring.
With the generosity and support of our friends, we are excited to work to create more stories like Victor Benjamin’s in Ghana!