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PERSPECTIVE
Teach and spark interest 
Jancan Limo, Education Consultant
13th December 2019
I have had two encounters in the last fortnight that have rubber stamped the correlation between interest and performance in the teaching profession
Last weekend, I attended a Teachers’ Conference held at a school in Tatu City, Kiambu County.  In all my years as a teacher, never had I encountered a group of my peers with this much gusto to shape young lives.   The weekend that followed found me in a motorbike bazaar. I wish it was out of my love for the two wheeled machines, but boredom from a lazy afternoon sprang me from my house.  Whatever I had imagined the place would be like quickly faded away as soon as I walked in. Instead of rowdiness and testosterone driven ruggedness I imagined it would be, I encountered men smothered by love for bikes.
Interest is not unlike a seed; provide the necessary conditions and it will germinate

Photograph from Pexels

My prejudice blinded me. This gathering was not about selling or buying motorcycles. I unknowingly stepped in a community of people glued together by their love for this one thing. The hearty laughter, joyful smile and occasional playfulness birthed from this shared connection.   As an outsider looking in, I wondered where this fired interest came from? Interest is not unlike a seed; provide the necessary conditions and it will germinate. When a bean seed is subjected to the right conditions, it sprouts irrespective of the environment; whether on a piece of land, in a container, open environment or in a lab.  It will always sprout devoid of injury or exhaustion. The seed does not use terror, intimidation nor coercion to subdue the soil. Contrary to common knowledge, interest is an acquired feeling. It blossoms when guided by intuition and intellect. If the right conditions are cultivated in arts, sciences or technical subject fields, interest will always sprout. I fully support the much-hyped ‘’follow your interest’’ ideology. However, we should be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. In my opinion, the right place to begin would be to ask: have we provided the right conditions for interest to bloom?
 “Teachers have an added job description now more than ever. With students finding themselves battling competing interests, teachers have a duty to cultivate interest in learners. Students selectively develop interest based on who is doing the guiding and how it is being executed

Young people are easily marveled by the extra ordinary. Anything that stretches their imagination gets them hooked. Their choices are influenced by fantasy rather than interest. Technological advancements, stardom, flashy lifestyles are among pull factors that determine important life decisions.

It is on this premise, that I wonder what authority we have to ask out children to follow their interests when the only influential environment they connect with is Instagram.  It is easy to preach love for math but it doesn’t spark the same interest as a socialite on Instagram.

Teachers have an added job description now more than ever. With students finding themselves battling competing interests, teachers have a duty to cultivate interest in learners. Students selectively develop interest based on who is doing the guiding and how it is being executed. It is common staff-room banter to hear teachers saying that a certain student doesn’t show much interest in their subject. I usually wonder if the teacher understands that interest is intentionally cultivated and that it spreads like a contagious disease.  

Teachers are paid to fake it in class. A geography teacher is not an expert but rather an individual with just enough knowledge to spark interest and curiosity in students. The work of the teacher is that of a guide, to unlock student’s capacity to imagine and know. The geography teacher’s job is successful when their student becomes curious enough to seek more knowledge on the subject.

It is not misplaced when the teaching profession is referred to as a ‘calling’. It involves operating on students’ context and perspective without forcing their way into them. It involves being patient enough to identify and foster learners’ potentials. Certainly, it involves using kindness instead of coercion or intimidation. It is then that a student’s success story can be attributed to a teacher.  

 

 

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