H is one of my many students. He is in Form 1. One look at him and you know that he has learning difficulties. He should not be in a normal school. He should be in a special needs school. At the beginning of the year, when he did come to school, he would sit at his desk quietly and do nothing. On some very good days, he would do my work.... but those are rare moments. His classmates tell me that he doesn't do any work for other subjects.
He can copy, I noticed. He scrawls but his writing is legible. Trying to get him to work is a battle of wills, one which I feel is a waste of time (though I'm still at it) because he totally wears you down. And there are others. He reads poorly and current arrangements won't improve things for him. Allowing him to do as he pleases is bad cos Other students see that he gets away without doing work and they follow suit. Another kid, F will do the same. F is not as weak as H but of late he's getting to be like H. And lately both have begun to retort. The hormones have started kicking in. 8( Often times, they will try to wear the teacher down by just refusing silently not to do their work. School has little meaning for them. And at the rate it's going, I don't think it's going to have any meaning for them any time soon. I have another group of Form 5 students like that too... Even the school counsellor who is supposed to be a Kaunselor Cemerlang refuses to have anything to do with them...
So what can we do. There are 30 kids in the class. Every single one of them has major problems with their 3Rs. One girl used to get almost every word wrong when she copied from the board. She has improved somewhat because I hound her for every word.... But she is still very slow. Teach them the word 'Hi' but when the next day comes it will go back to being 'he' again. 30 kids who can't count or read properly. I find myself playing the role of a remedial teacher increasingly. The next class before them isn't that far ahead either. Somehow, somewhere, we have failed.
It used not to be this bad when I started teaching 20 over years ago. And I do not know whether it's because they've been dumbed down by all the crutches.... and lack of required attention or even commitment from the system. Maybe it's the teachers. Then it could be the parents. But whichever excuses we want to pick, I think we're producing an awful lot of educational failures.
Why do they even come to school? Why do parents send their kids? When you send your kid to school, you send with the understanding that the school will polish them up and turn them loose, with the right attitude and skills. These kids deteriorate as the years go by. Many would enter Form 1 with that innocent look and leave in Form 5, probably having played truant, smoked, slept in class, failed most subjects or be just plain recalcitrant.
For those of us self absorbed people who think that they are not our problems... well, think again. These are the future snatch thieves, Mat Rempit and what have you not. When one leaves school without skills necessary in today's complex world, needs and desires will tip us over into the forbidden zones... and that is when educational failures become menace.