Teacher’s Mind: Why some students are certain to fail exams

The above title must be the most pessimistic I have come up with for a story, since I started writing this column. However it is also one that to me is long over due and therefore a little late considering the prevailing circumstances.

The above title must be the most pessimistic I have come up with for a story, since I started writing this column. However it is also one that to me is long over due and therefore a little late considering the prevailing circumstances.

National examinations for secondary school candidates are already underway and some of the students are already getting a sneak peak into how things are likely to turn out.

The way they perceive the situation already may be having elements of a déjà vu for some while others are always in shock once told to start responding to the questions placed before them. All this depends on several factors, many of which could already have been identified by their teachers and, or parents.

As one goes about the practice of teaching it is very easy to observe the attitudes, and skills possessed by the students. This in turn helps us as teachers to figure out and even almost correctly predict the most likely performance of the students.

However in most cases, teachers simply keep these observations to themselves often only airing their views during the staff break tea sessions.

The students who are not likely to score any relative success in these exams fall in many categories. The pain for the teacher is that in many cases he will have to take the blame especially by those who have a penchant to place more importance on the quantitative aspect of the results. The ones interested in numbers without looking at the ‘why?’ bit of things.

Some parents and teachers have overtime made conclusions that certain students are bright and therefore not likely to disappoint in this examination season. However when the results eventually come out next year, some people will be surprised a great deal especially when they fail. I hope not to be one of them because I have taken time to find out why students fail exams.

Apart from the fact that some of the students are mentally challenged, most of those who will fail in surprising ways will be those who will have not utilised their time at school in the expected ways.

Students who have been engaging in truancy instead of attending their lessons will be the first in this category. This is a very common practice in schools these days.

When a student joins S.3 or S.6 they tend to see this as an end in itself and then complacency sets in. Closer to these will be those who have been reading their own notes only and ignoring what the teachers had to say under the pretext of doing individual revision or ‘research’ as they love to call it.

My survey however seems to point so much to those students who either with the consent of their parents or minus it, have been having mobile phone handsets while at school. This will certainly engender poor performance yet many students have mobile phones or are still trying to acquire them.

As noted in the most recent edition of the Sunday Times by Linda Mbabazi and Steven Tusiime, there has indeed been an upsurge in the number f school kids who own mobile phones. And as further noted in the story, this trend has posed a negative impact on the performance of the students.

In most cases these phones are owned by girls and serve as tokens of affection from their boyfriends who need to keep in touch with them while they are at school. This indeed is the gist of the problem as the student will physically be in class or school yet mentally they will always be away from school thinking about their lovers.

As far as I am concerned, most schools do not allow their students to have phones at school and so this is something they do against the school rules and are certain to pay with a poor performance in the long run.

Ends

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