South Sudan became a country in 2011, and now four years later two visiting professors from the African nation are studying at Indiana University Bloomington for six months to learn about education and the school systems in the United States.
The professors visited Rousseau McClellan to observe how students learn in a Montessori-style classroom and to share their experiences on growing up and attending school in Sudan.
Patten’s students were astounded by the differences in learning and lifestyles.
“They talked about how when they were in school you learned by repeating everything that was said,” Cisco Q. said. “If they didn’t repeat the right thing or couldn’t remember, they were punished. I’m glad we don’t have that here.”
“Boys learn how to build their own houses when they’re only 12 years old,” Abby H. said.
“The houses are round,” Elise adds. “Each room is one building, and the family eats off of one tray.”
“I found it interesting that they eat with their hands and children aren’t allowed to talk during dinner,” Terrell S. said.
While the differences in life in South Sudan versus the United States are numerous, the most important thing the students in Patten’s class learned is understanding.
“We give them the world, and we give them the pieces to put it all together. This gives them a better understanding,” Patten said.
“It’s good for us to learn about the Sudanese culture and how they live,” Carter H. said. “But the professors also learned from us.”
“They came here to learn about our school and then make better schools in South Sudan,” Julian N. said. “I hope they’re able to do that because our school is great!”
We’re excited that the Rousseau McClellan students were able to learn so much from their South Sudanese visitors! It’s important to bring varying cultural experiences into the classroom, and we’re proud that Rousseau McClellan has ensured their students learn with a worldview!