I originally heard of Joseph Lekuton from Reader Digest (Readers Digest, June 2005, “Lessons Under the Acacia Tree” By Brooke Lea Foster & Cindy Rich [Washingtonian] page 153-158). His story is an inspiration to all…
The students in Joseph Lekuton’s seventh grade social studies class learn more than your average student. Oh, they learn the usual things social studies teachers teach and then they get some real life experiences in a country far from their American homes.
Their teacher, Lemosolai “Joseph” Lekuton, is a native of Kenya. His father did not approve of school. Once a Kenyan law was passed providing that each nomadic family send one child to school, his father relented. Lemosolai took himself from those humble beginnings and earned a scholarship at St. Lawrence University in New York.
He brings to teaching his formal education and then some. His style draws his students in. They have always been intrigued by their Kenyan teacher. Lekuton offered stories of his life which the students ate up.
Each summer Lekuton went back to Kenya during summer vacation. In 1996, he invited his students to go back to Kenya with him. The students would experience another culture first hand rather than from a social studies book.
With kids in tow, Lekuton returned home. They learned about his village, his way of life, and the different things his family did. They learned that things like cow herding were taken very seriously. A person assigned to that chore did not have the freedom to ditch it. The community’s survival depended on them doing their job. They also learned that things like shoes which are so easy to obtain in America are a luxury in other parts of the world.
Since 1996, Lekuton has taken students back with him each year. He gets to see his family. The kids gain valuable experience of people half way around the world. You can’t get that from a classroom.
[Photo courtesy of: Matthew Hayward, www.sxc.hu]