Children may be in school, but most are simply not learning what they should be.’
A Star article on the 27.08.12 quotes Nic Spaull from the National Professional Teacher’s organisation of SA (NAPTOSA): ‘It is without question that the majority of South Africa’s schooling system remains dysfunctional in that it lacks the ability to educate most of the youth. Every survey that we have (data from 2003, 6 and 7) testifies to this fact. Children may be in school, but most are simply not learning what they should be.’
From the teaching I do with ECD practitioner learners I am afraid I am on the receiving end of this ‘not learning’.
One of my main challenges is to get the students to start to learn, to conscientiously do their homework, to keep from glazing over and tuning out, and to remember any new knowledge from week to week. And for some the leap (and for most this is a huge leap) to just sitting in a room with others where knowledge is being available, to sitting and learning seems actually impossible.
And although I do try to have some fun bits of learning each session an educator has to get used to actually 'learning' in basic academic ways otherwise they will never really progress in gaining enough knowledge to become an effective teacher.
I truly believe that the reason for this is that after sitting for 10 – 12 years in classrooms learning almost nothing it has in fact become a kind of habit to not attend, to not try to understand...to simply put a listening expression on, stay quiet and think of TV shows or something else which requires no thinking. This is not their fault – rather it is the product of being at the receiving end of hundreds of unplanned, boring lessons by teachers who perhaps do not understand the material they are teaching...
I watched a Grade R class of 50 children and they spent more than 3 hours sitting at tables doing nothing for most of it. The teacher called them up 4 by 4 to paint an already drawn tree at a small table. Some didn’t even get to do the painting. And then the primary school teachers tell me that these children are better when they get to Grade 1? Their expectations of what a 7 year old is capable must be so low!
And yes, if you are expected to sit quietly for so long and do so little you will learn almost nothing as well as give up on actually learning from this experience. I suspect I would have.