The Strains

Jancan Limo, Education Consultant

08 August 2018

Karma is real. Trust me. I am not a very religious man neither am I superstitious but there are some happenings in my life that subject me to analyse the possible motives. I do this when success trail my way but it is often when challenges decide to give me a ride on my way in daily struggles.

If ever there were days that I really shed tears and prayed not because of misfortune but because of inner joy, it was the days’ mathematics teacher was absent. I could go to an extent of hugging the messenger who was sent to deliver the angelic news that since the teacher was not absent we were to do one or two. My expressions were priceless. I was always consumed by joy. It came once in a while but the moment the news land on my ears all my troubles vanished. The pain that I had endured boring lecture sessions and harassments from teachers and colleagues vanished. It is like my heart started beating afresh. Every morning I woke up the feeling of the teacher being absent lingered inside me. What would a day be like if it came true?

Using the words of my colleague back in a school we worked together, the devil is not a youth. Several years after my secondary education, I was in a school not just as a teacher but specifically as a mathematics teacher. The very person I yearned that he/she be absent. I had always wished to be a teacher but it never occurred to me that I treasured those moments would come to haunt me. In school, I was not a teacher who taught and followed the routine but very ambitious, energetic and passionate teacher. I rarely missed classes. Instead, I would lobby to secure an extra lesson from my colleagues. Who bewitched my fate?

Teaching kids whose motivation levels are in a winter season somewhere in Scandinavian countries is not a walk in the park.

Photograph from Unsplash

Teaching mathematics to students whose motivation levels are in a winter season somewhere in Scandinavian countries is not a walk in the park. The students normally coat the poor attitude in mathematics with a silver lining that can only be removed in a blast furnace. I guess I was in this category of students. The monotone of the teacher and the content that I could not easily relate with sounded like mosquitoes at night while on the bed.

Analysing the cause of my experience with math as a student was critical to avoid subjecting another two hundred souls into what I went through. I was not good at listening or having personal time to study but I was good at peddling rumours. Peddling rumours about what so and so understands in a given concept and how he or she opined about the same. I loved opinions on facts more than plain facts. I was good at valuing concepts based on emotions attached to it than the meaning the concept carries. I had friends who would give you a description of something that from the way they articulated it, exuding confidence and placing emphasis on every syllable that they articulated. How could I resist, or will not, to remember such descriptions?

“Whose subject is tailing? It’s mine. Who struggled the most? Me. Who used a lot of school resources? Me. Who felt bewitched? Me. Who bewitched me? I wish I knew.”

Content is one thing, why the content exists and how it is presented are other things. I don’t treasure the end products without having a deeper understanding of how it was achieved. Especially having taught math. We were graded based on what we were able to reproduce but no one cared about the trouble that we had gone through to score the nothing that we scored sometimes. Same case to our summative exams. What is treasured is ranking and not a genuine evaluation of the process.

Back at the school, I was teaching. We are always advised to go an extra mile in what we do, I went several miles. I stretched. I struggled. I used every single resource that could help me transform the performance. The administration was surprised on how I spent the printing papers trying to issue everyday assessment. Come that day. Who is the one announcing the results? It’s me. Whose subject is tailing? It’s mine. Who struggled the most? Me. Who used a lot of school resources? Me. Who felt bewitched? Me. Who bewitched me? I wish I knew.

I used to love the days when the mathematics teacher was absent, then I became one myself..

Photograph via Unsplash

Teachers need to be supported. The support they require is not only availing resources but on how to make learning meaningful and enjoyable. They need wisdom on how they can convince students why they are studying whatever they are studying and helping them with pedagogical experiences and approaches that connect with students. Meaningful and interesting formative assessment of learners that will help in the formation of knowledge can awake or resuscitate interest in the students learning.

If only we had sessions that made learning experiences meaningful and enjoyable. If only the learning experiences were made to stick. I would have been so much in love with learning experiences. That is why I am armouring myself and putting myself at the disposal of teachers to transform the encounters of students during the learning process.

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