Teacher Thoughts

  • MumijiSchool

    A Pioneering School Teacher

    Forward by Paola Gianturco It is possible that the stereotypical “grandmother” never existed? For many people in the Global North, the word calls up the image of a wrinkled, bespectacled, irrelevant old woman in a rocking chair. Perhaps she is crocheting something useless like an …

  • Richard Leakey

    Lessons from Middle School

    Leadership Lessons from my Middle School   by  Karim Ajania Skyping with the Cutlers Early this year, in January of 2015, Pencils for Africa skyped with Alan and Anne Cutler, who were teachers in Kenya and now live in Canada. The Cutlers taught at Hospital Hill …

  • HHSbrick4

    An Inspiring School Teacher

    The following are reflections by the Pencils for Africa editorial team after Skyping with Alan Cutler, Karim Ajania’s middle school teacher in Nairobi, Kenya, and Alan’s wife Anne Cutler. (The photo of the classroom above – and on the home page of this website – is …

  • OldNairobi

    Teaching school in Old Nairobi

    Teaching school in Old Nairobi by Anne Cutler   Editor’s Note Below are teacher and student reflections on Hospital Hill School (HHS) in Nairobi, Kenya. In the racially charged and segregated Nairobi of the 1950’s, a remarkably progressive and enlightened mixed-race couple, Mr. and Mrs. …

  • NirvKids

    Education and Dignity: Nirvanavan Foundation

    The following interview with Rucha Chitnis was conducted by our Contributing Editor, Suhail Shaikh.  About Rucha Rucha Chitnis is the Director of Grantmaking at Women’s Earth Alliance, a nonprofit that mobilizes resources to women-led grassroots groups and networks that are seeding and strengthening environmental and climate action …

  • Akili Dada

    Chloé and Sharon

    Editor’s Note The following interview of Sharon Adongo is conducted by Chloé Suberville. Sharon, what are you studying and what you are passionate about? Chloé, I am studying Science, Technology and Society at Vassar College. This major is right in line with what I am passionate about: …

  • Pencilmap

    Colorblind

      Colorblind … … by Hanaa Suleman Contributing Editor … In 1949, John and Joan Karmali were one of the first mixed race couples in Kenya. John was an Ismaili Muslim of Indian origin, while Joan was an English woman. At the time, Nairobi was …

  • IMG 40621

    Hanaa and her Students

    About Hanaa Hanaa has a B.Sc in Biochemistry from McGill University and a B.Ed from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto. While at McGill, she was President of the Salsa Dancing Club, and volunteered in the music therapy program at …

  • Jeremy

    A Letter of Recommendation

    Creativity make us feel alive and the more creativity we practice the more alive we feel. –– Jeremy Geidt, in response to Frugalis Creativus Forwarding Note by Professor Robert Calder Dear Karim: The beauty of an almost perfect morning at the lake was muted by …

  • School

    Challenging your Teacher’s Grade

    A previous article in this series, Teaching school in Old Nairobi, was written by Anne Cutler. Anne and her husband Alan Cutler, were schoolteachers at a school I attended in Nairobi over 40 years ago. In fact, Alan was my class teacher and he eventually was upgraded to headmaster (school principal) …

  • 593px Janet Echelman With Sculpture Prototype

    Teaching Craft Traditions

    Question from Karim Why was it important for you to study craft traditions and collaborate with artisans? Response from Janet   I see craft traditions as vessels of wisdom– because they hold aesthetic and structural knowledge passed down from generation to generation.  Because the techniques …

  • Fish7

    Teaching Sanskrit Storytelling

    Editor’s Note on the Reflective Narrative The previous “Teacher Thoughts” post entitled “Teaching Craft Traditions” ends with the idea of converting Janet Echelman’s real life story in Mahabalipuram into a traditional Indian story telling theme. The following is a story based upon the tradition of …

  • Painted Veil Logo

    Teaching English Literature

    W. Somerset Maugham was – according to many accounts – the most widely read novelist since Charles Dickens. I first became interested in Maugham in the 1980’s when I was taking a film class with Janet Echelman at Harvard. To read my interview with Janet, click here. …

  • Saki Mafundikwa

    Teaching Afrikan Alphabets

    Interview with Saki Mafundikwa, author of Afrikan Alphabets: The Story of Writing in Afrika The following interview was prepared by Pencils for Africa’s Deputy Editor, Athena, and was then conducted by the entire Northern California-based editorial team via Skype with Professor Saki Mafundikwa in Harare, …

  • Culturomics Media 4

    Preserving Cultural Traditions

    Note: The above image is global geocoded tone of New York Times content Link: (Culturomics Research uses media coverage to forecast human behavior) … Jean-Baptiste Michel holds joint academic appointments at Harvard University (FQEB Fellow) and at Google (Visiting Faculty). His research focusses on using …

  • Ecosystem

    Preserving Our Ecosystems

    Dr. Elinor Breman gained her D.Phil. from The School of Geography and Environment, Oxford University in 2010. Her thesis examined the drivers of vegetation change at the present-day grassland-savanna ecotone in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Mpumalanga province borders Swaziland as well as the Gaza Province, …

  • RECYCLING1

    Teaching Eco-Friendliness

    An excellent person to ask about the topic of ‘recycling systems’ is former MIT scholar and researcher, Malima I. Wolf.  Malima completed her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2011, and went on to become a Rocca Fellow at the Politecnico di Milano, in Italy. She continues to …

  • TereseDancing

    Teaching Dance

    by Karim Ajania Katya and The Bolshoi Brazil Katerina Novikova, dance teacher at The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow (Katya) and I were discussing Leo Tolstoy again. Katerina (Katya) is a dance instructor at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Moscow was also the new “home” of Russian author Leo …

  • India Lunch

    Nature Smart

    Nature Smart by Karim “Nature Smart” is the term educators use to describe activity, learning, and teaching. Learning and teaching within the sustainable cycle of Nature, is an idea that has gained increasing appreciation over the years. “..nature challenges us, revitalizes us, humbles us, exhilarates us …

  • Twigpencils

    Teaching Poetry

    Interview with Karim, Editor, Brick Project 2016 (…On the subject of his elementary school Poetry Teacher, Mr. Baird) by Olivia Ramsay Forward by Thomas Thwaites, The Toaster Project I have always loved the idea of frugalis creativus. It is so true that creativity cannot be purchased …