The month of February was largely characterised by the release of the results of the 2007 national examinations for both senior three and six. One of the major concerns regarding the results was the rather unsatisfactory perfomance of most students.
Acoording to some people, it was because of the change in the way students were examined. Education Ministry officials were thus blamed for making changes at the policy level without passing the information to the teachers.
I am not here to point fingers at any one as far as the perfomance of students is concerned. Instead I wish to shed some light on something that I think is sometimes overlooked by some teachers.
This is the issue of how best to motivate the students we teach to perform better. Over the years I have come to realise that some of our students perform dismally simply because they set themselves rather low targets and consequently reap low returns.
Before one can make any significant achievement in life there must be some soul searching. During this process one reflects on where he/she is at the moment, where they wish to be in future and how precisely they intend to make the journey from one point to another.
For learners to achieve, they must have clear ambitions and goals. They need to know, not just why they are in school, but where they desire to be after they are done with school.
I am always set back a great deal whenever I ask a student what he/she wishes to do or be, after school and they tell me that they do not know. That implies that such students are not sure of why they are in school in the first place.
They are in school only because their parents sent them to school. Or because the government insists that they should be. A very bad situation I would say. Teachers should always endeavour to inspire their learners to work hard.
In doing so they ought to make it clear to their students that aiming high should be their major target. One of my secondary school teachers always told us that we should always aim for the best in whatever we did.
According to him only the best was good enough. It is often said that in life we should also aim for the moon. Just in case we do not get to it, we can at least get to the stars (which may not be too bad after all).
In other words one who aims high is not likely to lose out totally. Therefore even our students should be encouraged to aim quite high as far as their academics are concerned.
Instead of setting high academic targets, many students tend to aim to satisfy only the minimum that is expected from them.
This is a very dangerous trend because the minimum keeps being altered. This year’s minimum may not be next year’s minimum.
Becase of such a false premise you find some learners here aiming at getting enough points for just a high school certificate.
Such students forget that this minimum is not enough to earn them government sponsorship at the university. Or that many universities may turn them away for having low marks.
In other cases, some learners work for only enough marks to keep them on the sponsorship of FARG or other aid agencies. This is not bad at all because the sponsorship is needed.
However, it would be better if such students are taught to work hard for better marks. Not just to please FARG to continue aiding them, but to aim for the best so as to show that despite their problems they are still academically competent.
The lesson is clear. Learners must be taught that in all they do they must aim for the best because only the best is good enough in life.