By Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Dealing with students’ distractions
During my university days, classes of Andragogy (the science of teaching adults) introduced me to a concept known as ‘a teachable moment.’ A teachable moment refers to that time when a learner is in the best moods to take in what is being taught and retain it.
However, it is those teaching adult learners such as universities and institutes where flexibility or postponing lessons is done accordingly.
Teaching formal school learners in primary or secondary school is a different ball game altogether. The times for teaching are fixed and have to be adhered to. The learners cannot choose when to be taught. And likewise, the teacher is denied the much-coveted teachable moment.
The teacher in this case therefore has to assume that once a student is in class, he/she is ready to learn.
The education system should hitherto devise strategies of sustaining this mood for as long as possible. We need to first of all identify the different things that tend to distract students and take a lapse from the desired academic goals.
Technological advancement sweeping across Africa though belatedly is having a big impact on the performance of students in school.
Take an example of radios. During my school days, most students owned relatively big radios that they listened to in the dormitories after classes. No harm in this at all. This is because there was no way a student would carry a huge radio to class.
Today, there are hundreds of cheap and extremely portable FM radio sets that have flooded the market. Students are more inclined to carry these small gadgets not only to school but all the way to the class.
A student who smuggles a small radio set in class seriously endangers the assumed teachable moment. While others are trying to follow what the teacher is saying, the fellow with the radio is simply waiting on the teacher to leave before he can pull out the radio to listen to the sports news.
It is actually very good for students to have radios because with them, they are able to follow current affairs like news about their country or from other parts of the world. However, when the radios are smuggled to class, then the students are pushed to the wrong side of the age old school dictum, “Do the right thing, at the right time, in the right place.”
Similarly, the common habit of students coming to school with mobile phones is bound to inflict a deadly blow to students’ progress in class. Again, because of their portability, many students find it easy to carry these gadgets to school. Most of them have vibrating capacity so a student can ‘silently’ have one in school without being detected.
These phones, which I think, are illegal in most if not all schools compel students to always think of where to get money to load airtime.
To this end therefore, owners of phones in school are more likely to engage in theft so as to maintain their phones. And those who don’t have will harbour a lot of envy towards those who have.
I also strongly believe that no ‘sane’ or reasonable parent can buy his/her child a phone to use at school as this only serves to distract the child. Most students get the phones from their lovers especially ‘Sugar Daddies’. This means that a student having a phone could also be a sign that she is having a relationship with an older man. This man may not only give her a phone but also HIV/Aids.
A school can install a public phone for all the students to use. A parent who needs to talk to his/her child ought to do this through the school administration.
Some students have genuine psychological problems that make life difficult for them at school that they may wish to keep in touch with their parents; however radios and phones are voluntary problems that need to be dealt away with.
Those in charge of discipline should see to it that students do not bring these gadgets to class or even to school in the first place.