The focus should be on “why such high failure rate when there are so many lessons?”
There was an interesting letter to the editor in Kaiteur News newspaper on June 9, 2012, captioned, “there needs to be a clampdown on extra lessons” written by Mr. Rafael Khan. It was laced with generalizations and I am offended. I therefore share my concerns.
In our economic system, mainly free market, there is nothing the Minister of Education can do about extra lessons once they are not held in the Government’s building. She can however, do something about the lackadaisical behaviour of teachers in the classrooms, if this exists. She can tighten up on issues such as proper supervision of learners, teachers’ preparedness for work, maintenance of proper learning environment. She can suggest and fight for better wages for teachers, which may motivate them to go back to the old time religion of free lessons.
On the other hand, parents do not have to send their children to paid lessons. They can sit with their children in the evenings and work with them. They can help them with their assignments, do extra reading with them, teach them at home, and give them challenging problems to work. These are positive alternatives to extra lessons. These alternatives seem to be very difficult since parents are too busy trying to earn an extra dollar late in the evenings. However, some parents are complaining when teachers get busy trying to carry out parents’ role in the form of lesson. For this reason parents MUST pay the price.
If lessons are held at a teacher’s home, it must be valued at a cost, whether monetary or otherwise. The cost depends on how much the teacher is giving up. Consider a teacher who has a spouse and children. Lessons may be held from 4pm to 5pm and maybe also from 5pm to 6pm. During this period of the evening, the average wife may be cooking, doing homework with the children, preparing for the next day, watching soaps, etc. The average husband may be at the gym, hanging with his friends, at work late or spending time with his family. In the case of the teacher, he /she is giving up such valuable time and opportunities to teach at lessons.
Mr. Khan, in his letter went to the extent of estimating the extra earnings that lesson may yield, how unfair. Consider the number of children who attend lessons with some genuine sad stories and in some cases fake ones, “mommy seh she gon send de money later, or mommy na gat money now.” Think of the children who attend the same lessons for free. What about those teachers who are still waiting for their payment and the children stopped lessons just before exam? Don’t be fooled by the size of the classes, some teachers are renting their lessons place. Some teachers have to use the very lessons money to strive for better living, since their meager salaries cannot suffice. Nobody complains when lessons are given for free. Some children on the other hand don’t value it either.
The focus should not be on lessons. The focus should be on “why such high failure rate when there are so many lessons?” Firstly, teachers complain about overcrowded classrooms at school, i.e. 40 plus students in a class, but their lessons may have 50 plus students in one sitting, cramped together, uncomfortably seated. Each student will not benefit equally. Some students may be missed or ignored since the teacher may not notice them, some may prefer to sit at the back and hide so they may not be seen to be asked a question.
Secondly, lessons are not for the very smart children who have the ability to study on their own once given the necessary resources. However, some parents use lessons as nannies, to find somewhere for their children to be in the afternoons while they are still at work. The real reason for sending the child to lessons is therefore ignored.
Thirdly, some parents believe that the more popular the lesson is, the better it is for their child. This in many instances is not true. Most lessons move at a pace and the slow learners are still left behind, thus causing them to fail.
Fourthly, some children go to lessons because their friends go to lessons. Some of those very children are found loitering way into the night claiming to be waiting for transportation, instead of hurrying home to study. Some children become contented with the work done at lessons and neglect their actual school work, placing more value on their lesson work. The list can go on.
In conclusion, lessons should be viewed as an aide for children, since the syllabus is very cramped and teachers are forced to touch and go on the topics at school so as to complete it. In order to effectively perform this function, teachers who give lessons should be learner focused, consider their class size at each sitting, monitor their students’ performance and view their job at school as equally important as their lessons.
Teacher who doesn’t give lessons