Teacher’s mind By Allan Brian Ssenyinga
When the examination council released last year’s A’ Level examination results, I spent time thinking about what the whole process of learning from Primary school to Senior 6 means to students.
Do students ever feel like studying is a chance for them to define their lives or is it simply a hindrance to their free time? Do they ever stop to think that they are in class for their own benefit or are there because someone has paid their tuition?
Being very clear about why students are in school is certainly a key determinant for success. When the purpose of achieving an education is understood, it can greatly influence the outlook of an individual’s goals. The way one walks from a bus stop to an office for an interview is obviously not the same way they would walk if it was a leisurely evening stroll with a friend.
It is therefore very crucial especially for parents to help their children understand why they have to be in school. In case this is not clear from home, then teachers also have a duty to remind students why school is important and how best students can excel. The idea of children assuming that they are in school to make their parents happy is not sustainable since at the end of the day, these same children will as adults, live the kind of life they prepared for while at school.
Ever since the first day I stepped in a classroom to teach, I did not think there was anything more infuriating than teaching a lazy student. Over the years, I have noticed that a lazy student is his or her own enemy. I am talking about the student whose laziness manifests in the classroom.
Picture this for a moment. As a teacher, you walk into a classroom, greet the students and then proceed to ask them what you taught during the previous lesson. Thereafter you start on the day’s lesson that you prepared. You introduce and explain a concept then you tell the class to get their books and take notes.
As the students bend to write and keep pace with your dictation (writing everything on the chalkboard is nothing but spoon-feeding) you suddenly notice a student who is sitting upright and looking on sheepishly. You pause and walk over to him/her to find out why he is not taking notes. Their answer is simple, “I do not have a pen.” In other cases it is, “I do not have a book.”
During my teaching practice, I have come across such students a couple of times and my question to them has always been: “So why are you in class?” There is simply no logic of embarking on a journey without the necessary tools required for a job. A soldier without a gun during the war is considered crazy and so are such students.
If a teacher can take time to prepare for a lesson, why should a student appear in class without a book or pen as if they are mere spectators. Such students are not aware of why they are in school in the first place. They think they can just walk into class and sit and watch while their colleagues are taking notes.
They care less about what happens in class and that is why it is not important for them to carry a pen or to make an effort to borrow one before a lesson begins. These are the same people who later in life are found in a banking hall ready to withdraw over Rwf100,000 but do not see the importance of carrying a pen that costs Rwf100 only, to sign bank documents! Laziness and, especially, academic laziness should never be tolerated in any school.