The principal of Kisumu Boys High School Denis Abok believes that parents and teachers should focus their time and energies to nudge the student who is not effectively exploiting his or her potential to learn.
Such students should not be written off, Abok advises.
“Turn the child or student who has learning difficulties into your personal project,” he urges.Truth be told: One of the most trying experiences parents and teachers ever face, lies in bringing up children and teaching students who have behaviour or learning difficulties.
The behaviour and or the learning difficulties the student face may not be genetic.
But parents and teachers do not have the foresight to determine exactly the root of the stubbornness they see in the children who for all practical purposes, have the capacity to learn all other factors remaining constant.
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The temptation for most parents and teachers is to give up on the child.
The temptation for many parents who have elder children who have not had behaviour or learning difficulties is to write off the child and take comfort in the fact that, he or she has children who have demonstrated capacity to do things.
The same applies to experienced teachers — those who have in the past helped students do well in national examinations and become successful in their post school life as academicians, professionals, employees and employers.
Fragile processIt is Abok’s philosophy that the molding that parents and teachers undertake is a far greater and more defining work that anyone can possibly imagine.
His work is irrevocable than say, compared to the work of an engineer putting up a bridge.
How? If a structural defect is discovered in the process of building a bridge, nothing is lost, save the cost of pulling down the bridge and rebuilding it once again.
“But the life of a child or student cannot be repaired to any reasonable degree once destroyed,” Abok argues.READ ALSO: Matiang’i sets date when KCSE cheats will be punished
In the principal’s homely talk to teachers, parents and students is the conclusion that, although we never appreciate it, child development is a fragile process.
It calls for understanding, care, patience, and empathy.
Beyond the instructional role that society know a teacher to be, he is also (or expected) to be a mentor, a guide, a coach, a role model, and more importantly a leader to his students.
The roles apply, with equal measure to the parents.
In many ways than one, the parent and the teacher are the primary community builders. If they forsake any of the children, they impair the foundation of the community.
Perhaps, one of the most important statement that is etched in my mind is Abok’s assumptions that parents and teachers should at all times speak hope to their children or students.
That statement invariably calls to my mind Napoleon Bonaparte’s statement to the effect that a leader is a dealer in hope.Children and students face so many frustrations. What with the complexities of modern life! What with the pressure to post good results! What with the pressure to be well behaved! What with so many distractions, both internal and external, that may and does impede the learner’s focus!
Identity vs confusionMajority of learners in high school are in the stage that developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erickson called the identity vs confusion in his theory of human development.
This is the age that adolescent children explore their independence and develop a sense of self and is marked with so much inner turbulence.
This is the moment when the child needs a little more understanding, a little more care, and a little more empathy and concern than any other person within the family or school.
Faced with this scenario, parents are wont to adopt the carrot and stick approach to effecting the desired behaviour that psychologists like Skinner created.
It never works other than creating fear in the children. It causes further confusion in the child instead of steadying his ability to perform.
The child who fails to meet the expected learning behaviour could be fighting demons or be in the grip of forces they don’t understand.
Writing them off in fact helps to destroy them more.
A little more understanding, a little more care, and a little more empathy and concern that is what these students/children need.
If I got Abok’s message right, it is that every children counts: that they look to parents and teachers for support, for affirmation, for inspiration and coaching than any other personage.
And that that is why parents and teachers have such a defining influence on the lives of children.
We can as parent and teacher alike, shine like the evening star to that child and that student who is grappling with life and learning.
Who knows, that child and that student may be the next generation of great scientist, statesmen that Kenya and mankind will look to evolving solutions to some of the pressing problems that face society and mankind in general.
Kennedy Buhere is the Public Communications Officer at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis article expresses the author’s opinion only. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Tuko.co.ke or its editors. We welcome opinion and views on topical issues. Email: email@example.com