Do not wait to be spoon-fed

A teacher guides pupils on how to use OLPC computers.

Dear Counsellor,

This term, our economics teacher has been absent most of the time. Of late, she has resorted to distributing notes in class and assigning us to discuss the topics in groups. Although she explained that she has been feeling unwell and needs enough rest, we feel cheated of our parents’ value for money. How can we report this matter without feeling insensitive towards her condition? 






The teacher’s presence holds immense power in the classroom.  This is because teachers set the tone of their classrooms, build a warm learning environment, mentor and nurture students, become role models and work on class control. Teachers also identify and design learning activities, specifically relevant to the level of the learners. So if a teacher goes absent for long due to illness, this can take a toll on your grades and you should approach the respective school administration to find an immediate substitute to cover that gap.

However, although the teacher’s classroom presence is truly indispensable, today’s education trend places the responsibility of learning in the hands of the students. The traditional classroom where students sit quietly and attentively in their seats, while the teacher pours vast amounts of knowledge into their seemingly sponge-like brains, is a thing of the past.

Today, students are expected to take aggressive steps in assuming a more “active” role in the education experience. The most important thing to learn is how to study independently, and the sooner you learn without a teacher holding your hand, the more you’ll enhance your own learning abilities of self-regulated learning, critical thinking, discovery, improved motivation and better management of acquiring new knowledge and skills.

This will free up your time and boost your skills, rather than wasting time waiting to be spoon-fed by the absent teacher. This is because spoon-fed facts are useless to a student unless you have developed skills to strengthen the existing knowledge, discover more and draw confidence from that.

If your teacher goes absent for a while, grab this opportunity to take responsibility in your own learning because research has it that student-centered learning is one of the key factors of a memorable educational journey, simply because it leads to constructive knowledge rather than passively receiving it from the teacher. Being spoon-fed will make you reliant on a teacher’s source of knowledge, often limiting you from consulting other numerous knowledge acquisition channels like text books, internet courses, fellow students and other teachers.

The Government of Rwanda recently launched the competency-based curriculum to promote the learner-centered approach which places students at the centre of their own learning environment by allowing them to be involved in deciding why, what, and how their learning experience will take shape.

Construct knowledge and skills by building on current information while carrying out self-assessment measures. Monitor your own learning to develop strategies for independent education and problem-solving, not only in school, but also for the future. 

Their thoughts...

General Okeke, Student

As a student, you have the right to be concerned about your studies, and so you should go ahead and address this issue. Talk to the teacher as a class. I believe after hearing you out, she will find better and suitable ways to be more involved in your studies.

Josephine Tumukunde, Model

Forwarding a problem to school administration doesn’t make you insensitive to the teacher’s condition; on the contrary, it helps the school ensure that students don’t fail. Talk to the dean of studies to confront the teacher. Perhaps the teacher isn’t well enough to be in class, and in order to know this, you must speak out.

Sylvia N, Fashion Designer

The class monitor should talk to the teacher about her absence, and they can come up with a solution.  If the teacher is not feeling well, there are good revision methods you can use, such as group revision, discussions and competitions. This will keep you focused and help you improve your studies.

Jean-Bosco Ngenzahayo, Student

It’s good to have the teacher on a daily basis to get you through your studies, however, that shouldn’t make you dependent on the teacher. Good students are passionate and hardworking, in the absence of the teacher, they can do revision in the library, research and hold discussions with fellow students. My advice is that you work hard in the meantime and if the problem continues, take it to the school administration.

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