Education shock: noun- a derivative of culture shock; a state of bewilderment and distress experienced by an individual teacher or student who is suddenly exposed to a new, strange, or foreign social and cultural education.
Subject: Endangered animals
“So these, ” I draw a circle around our list of clouded leopard, rhino, Irrawaddy dolphin; “are animals that are endangered in Burma. Can anyone give me an example of an animal that is extinct?”
“Hmm…what about the dinosaurs?” The name is written on the board with a squiggly line underneath.
“What are dine-o-sours?” One student bravely whispers to me.
“Have you not seen this term before? Can you please check your dictionaries?” 22 hands flutter through Burmese-English translations.
“Not clear, teacher.” Another student points at the word. “Can you tell, please?”
Questions flood over the classroom. “What color are they?” “Do they eat rice?” “Did they live in Burma?” “Can they fly?” “Do they eat humans?”
How do you explain – to a group of Burmese refugees with minimal English speaking skills, a highly-censured educational background and devout Christian beliefs – that a gargantuan species of lizard existed previous to man, disappeared thousands of years ago, and may or may not have anything to do with evolution?
“They were bigger than…this house…and they could eat humans if they wanted to, but humans weren’t….alive yet…so yes, they ate lots and lots of rice, just like you and me….”