The learner is a person!

It’s so frequesnt to hear in the educational theories and spheres ” taking the learner as a whole person”.But,we rarely take this into serious consideration given the number of students we have to deal with,and given the amount of syllabus we have to cover before a standardised test arrives.

Humanistic theories advocate and recommend taking  the learner as a “human being” with all his/her qualities,sufferings and life situations and conditions   while we are teaching him/her in our classes.

As I have already mentioned, so many stressful conditions surround teachers that they completely ignore that the learner comes into school bringing with him/her every thing that he/she faces and lives outside school.

Today,I have lived a case which really “urges” us to take the learner as a whole person before taking any decision or before even starting your “warm up”.I have been teaching a student for the last 5 months and he would more often produce meaningless sounds in class while I am expalining or dealing with my lesson.This “human” would usually laugh in cases where no one else ,but him,laughs in his class.He would utter sounds that I used to consider as  strange enough to be those of a “human being”.I asked many of his other teachers, and they all said that he behaves exactly the same way in other subjects,which dismissed the fact that he had a problem with English as a subject or with me as an English teacher.It was really one of the mysteries I have lived during the last ten years of my teaching.

Taking learners as human being is a fact that must be taken seriously if we really want our teaching/schools to build full humans and citizens.I have learned that this poor adolescent is living miserable social conditions.I have found out ,today, that his father is a well-known delinquent and drankard in his   neighbourhood.So,all the “misbehaviour” of that student is no more than a reflection of the state of instability that he’s been living.Today,I have actually spoken with this poor kid in private and I have learned things that I should have understood from the beginning of the year.This student ahs even said that his father divorced his mother long ago,and that he’s living with his grand-parents,while his mother is married to another man far away from where he’s now.

These facts have given me an insight into the reason(s) behind this child’s behaviour.I wouldn’t try to expalin it more psychologically-a job I am not well-equiped to deal with.I would say no more than THIS STUDENT NEEDS OUR ATTENTION;I am now aware that what he was doping in his different classes is merely for the sake of getting some of the attention and recognition that he misses else where-his family.It’s unfortuante ,however,that many of his teachers are not aware of the situation he’s living,which still opens the door for more criticism and “irrelevant” behaviuor management solutions from his teachers.

I am now aware that this student and similar others misbehave with a view to getting some of the respect they have lost outside school.It’s so sad,though,that they continue to get disrespect both from us and from their peers,simply because we have FAILED to understand their life.We are really obliged to provide our learners with the self-esteem that is lost for them because of one reason or another,and to do that there must be other parts-administration staff-which must know every thing about every student’s life and provide us-teachers-with this type of information so that we act towards our kids appropriately.

It’s really so sad that the people who hold information of this type on our students continue to consider it as “secret” ,and “it might deprive the student of his self-esteem” in front of the teachers and peers.It’s high time that our schools had centers that ” really listen to the student,”and know every thing about his/her life.These are valuable information that would have saved me and the poor child a lot of trouble and misunderstanding!

I am now aware that no student can learn-or try to learn-while he/she misses other valuable parts of his/her life.Self-esteem,recognition and self-respect are essential before learning.

To sum up, we,as teachers,have to be tolerant and very slow while responding or interpretting our students’  (mis)behaviour.We should know that many things happen in our students’ lives outside  and inside school ,and they all affect the way these students behave ,react and learn in our classes.I now aknwoledge that there are  other things that are more important than the lesson plan and the use of a multi-media channel!

I am now aware that so many of the ways I tried to react to that particular student’ misbehaviour were inappropraite and totally missing the point.Because I have talked to him today and because he feels that I am no longer a grammar and language teacher,I am sure he will modify his behaviour.He simply knows that I am caring for him,and that’s what he needs.

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About brahim

An ELT supervisor. Interested in social media, blogging and the use of ICT in language teaching.

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Learners and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. thank you for your insightful texts here. true the learner must be taken into consideration by the teacher ; a learner is not only a depository for the teachers schoolmaterial, but also an active being who reacts and acts !

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