Teachers Should Induct Learners To Take Charge Of Own Education Process In And Out Of School

In the end, however, whatever learning that is likely to happen to students while away from School, depends on the quality of teaching and learning climate that obtains in schools.
Kennedy Buhere

I have read lots of opinion articles about the impact the prolonged closure of schools will have on schooling going forward.

The initial outbreak of Covid-19 created unusual concerns about health and safety of teachers and learners, occasioning suspension of learning in educational institutions in Kenya and in the rest of the world.

Adoption of virtual learning was one of the earliest approaches most governments adopted to sustain the learning of students, pending eventual reopening of schools when it will be deemed safe for teachers and learners. Others have suggested that educational institutions adopt blended learning to integrate the safety and health concerns that Covid-19 has created informal learning.

According to pundits, blended learning is a style of education in, which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching. Students can seamlessly switch to any of the learning methods as circumstances demands.

In the fullness of time, this pandemic will come to pass and the world shall see its children troop back to class.

All told, however, Covid-19 has created in our minds a new reality: it is that traditional face-to-face learning can be disrupted at any time. It has taught us that it is not just widespread war that can disrupt schooling but that children and their teachers can be suddenly separated for whatever reason – in peacetime. What it has also taught us is that that learning – the education of children -should continue in whatever form, notwithstanding the physical separation of teachers from their learners.

In the fullness of time, this pandemic will come to pass and the world shall see its children troop back to class.

In the end, however, whatever learning that is likely to happen to students while away from School, depends on the quality of teaching and learning climate that obtains in schools. It is not enough to make the online teaching and learning available to learners and teachers. It is not enough to train them on how to use the technology.

The factors for quality virtual learning are the same for traditional or face-to-face learning. The Teacher must be well educated, trained and with the right attitude to their work. The schools must have created friendly learning environments where students are active participants as individuals and as members of collaborative groups. The teachers should also have created a culture where they motivate students and nurture their desire to learn in a safe, healthy and supportive environment which develops compassion and mutual respect.

Last but least, the teachers should have been effectively allocating time for students to engage in hands-on experiences, group discussions and process content and make meaningful connections with the knowledge or concepts they were learning.

In turn, the students should be responsible for their own learning. The leaners must be motivated to learn to make the best of any educational environment. They should also have been authentically engaged and demonstrated a sense of accomplishment and confidence during traditional or face-to-face learning.

I have in mind a school climate in which students are active as opposed to passive learners. The teacher facilitates learning, not the authority figure or divine delivering knowledge from on High. Where students ask open-ended questions without fear of recriminations, questions which invites lively discussions among students and the teacher as the umpire.

At the backdrop of this climate is a school library system that is well stocked with books on general education – books on general information and creative works. The school library should have fiction and nonfiction books in the arts and humanities, and the natural sciences. The school library encourages critical thinking, curiosity, innovation, problem-solving and research. Ideally, it is a central point for all kinds of reading, access to information, knowledge building, deep thinking and lively discussion.

A school that has a library and has created time for students to visit the library encourages leisure reading.  Leisure reading is defined as reading that is done on a student’s own time and is not reading that is assigned by a teacher.  Leisure reading is further characterized by choosing what a student wants to read and reading from any number of different types of reading and includes more than just books.

The Basic Education Regulations of 2015 provides about six hours of Class hours between 8.00 am and 3.30 pm for teaching the prescribed curriculum. Students can perfectly utilise the two hours before 8.00 am and three hours for students in boarding school, to manage their own reading/studies before they commence official teaching hours. The three hours for students in Boarding schools is sufficient for them to conduct their own studies and also read for leisure without being confined to work assigned by a teacher.

A flexible school climate that the Schools Hours envision in The Basic Education Regulations of 2015 creates room for students to conduct their own education, under the supervision of the school authorities. It helps the students take responsibility for their own education. It makes them know that they are learning for themselves, preparing for their own future and not for teachers or their parents.

And any disruption to schooling such as Covid-19 has occasioned will not disrupt their education. The organisation of school programmes will have helped them to make a distinction between education and schooling. The school climate will have taught them that education happens everywhere, any time and day; not just within the school boundaries.

Let the students be forced to stay away from school as Covid-19 has done, education will continue. They will have the motivation and discipline to meaningfully attend to virtual learning without their parent’s micro supervising them. They will venture into internet materials that have intellectually and morally uplifting and not debasing content.

The best way of ensuring seamless education of learners with or without disruption of schooling is to empower them to educate themselves. Students’ ability to educate himself within and without a school environment is the best way of preparing for the prolonged closures of schools for whatever reasons beyond the power of governments and mankind in general.


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