New Year, New Resolve

This is the last issue of Education Times for the year 2013. It is that time towards the end of the year that’s often dedicated to reflecting on what has been done over the last one year and laying plans for the coming year.
Parents and teachers should be partners in education. Education Times/ File.
Parents and teachers should be partners in education. Education Times/ File.

This is the last issue of Education Times for the year 2013. It is that time towards the end of the year that’s often dedicated to reflecting on what has been done over the last one year and laying plans for the coming year.

Today, we examine what we need to do to make 2014 an exciting and fulfilling year – as far as education is concerned.

Students: Learning is a life-long process

Learning is an endless process. It is actually a life-long activity so you need to ask yourself regularly, “What have I learnt today?” In the New Year, students need to remember that learning does not only occur at the school premises but also outside. With interest, learning will occur at anytime.

Education does not stop; it is a lifelong process according to University of South Pacific’s dean of the faculty of Arts and Law Dr Akanisi Kedrayata.

“We know education does not end with our schooling or training – it is a lifelong process therefore everyone must continue to learn,” she argues.

Students should also approach the year with a new mindset that opens their eyes to sources of knowledge. In 2014, you need to know that your teacher does not have a monopoly over knowledge. Actually, teachers are simply facilitators of the learning process, not sources of everything.

In 2014, it will be foolish of you to fear your teachers. They are there to guide you. Feel free to ask them and to share with them anything you come across. It is their job, so don’t think you are bothering them. In fact, teachers love inquisitive students.

The issue of a poor reading culture is one that is mentioned a lot. In the coming year, making an effort to improve on your reading culture can prove very vital. Examinations are done in the English language; therefore; familiarising yourself with it through reading is always a smart move.

Teachers: Get to know your learners better

It is quite unfortunate that the average class tends to have more students than what is recommended. Any class with more than 40 students is not easy to teach. The reason I am saying this is because it is really very important to know who your learners are.

It is not enough to know a student’s name and what they scored in the last test. Make an effort to know their names in full, who their friends are, what they love doing outside class and any other information that will make it easy for you to work with them.

For example, if a student loves playing football it would be so easy to explain something to them using a football analogy. Also students tend to have personal issues that may affect their learning. Are you aware of them?

I once had a student with a hearing problem. He always preferred sitting at the front next to a friend who took time to explain to him in case he had not heard. Another teacher would probably have decided to separate them on the grounds that one is always whispering to the other during the lesson.

Lastly, in 2014, I beg teachers to make an effort to learn more about their work. Access to the internet is much better today than years ago. Why not Google the new teaching techniques that are being used in different parts of the world? Have you bothered to fully understand what learner-centred teaching is about? 

One scholar, T.J Shuell, argues that, “Without taking away from the important role played by the teacher, it is helpful to remember that what the student does is actually more important in determining what is learned than what the teacher does.” Well 2014 is the year to fix all that.

Parents: Never switch-off


In 2014, parents need to have a new mindset as well. Over the years, I have observed that most parents think their role is to pay school fees, take the child to school and get on with their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Teach your child all the things they need to know, especially about discipline and life skills.

If blessed with the means, then a parent should equip their child with all the necessary scholastic materials. What is even more important is that parents need to befriend their children’s teachers. Form some sort of partnership with the teachers.

Tell them about how your child behaves outside school and they will tell you about his character while at school. Together you can come up with very effective solutions in case of any problem. I can easily tell a child who is in good hands when a teacher is able to point out the parent and what the parent has told them about the child.

Therefore your job is not to dump the child at school but to stay involved and follow up on their performance as often as possible. You do not need to wait for the school term to end or to look at the report card to know that your son has been performing dismally. A simple phone call to his teacher on a Thursday evening could prove very helpful.

Last but not least, the education of your child is not a mere responsibility. It is an investment that should pay off if handled well. If in a supermarket, do not just think, “Oh, that shoe would look nice on Junior.” Go to the book section with the same thinking for once and say, “I think Junior would love this book.”

Let us kick off 2014 with a resolve to do better and build a bright future for our children and for the country in general.

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