There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration, when one is meditating on the standard of our local education. However, after everything is set and done, it all boils down to two pillars: the teacher and the learner/student.
The teacher has to teach in such a way that will allow the learner/student to connect to the subject at hand and the learner/student has to internalise the content to such a degree that one can really observe that he/she understood and grasped the essence of a given topic. This is especially important, because we have developed a culture where teachers read to learners/students instead of really teaching them and learners/students are under the impression that it is enough when you memorize the information.
Can we agree that there is a huge difference between memorising something vs. really understanding it? These exercises are meant for those teachers who want to learn the secret to extraordinary teaching. We don’t have time to entertain theories. These exercises are as practical as can be and any teacher willing to give it a try will begin to notice a positive change in his/her lessons. These exercises are twenty-four in total and they are available online (Google: New Era, Teachers Exercises). My advice is that you pic two exercises per month. If you have the discipline to stick to the exercises for twelve months, then you will be different teacher, after one year.
The previous exercise was to remind learners that we are all endowed with the ability to remember. If you can remember your first day of school, then, by law, you should be able to remember what you read. There are many people who are able to see the entire textbook in their mind’s eye, and therefore, writing examination is a matter of play for them. Natural Learning teaches learners/students how to awaken this amazing ability.
Let us now come to our final exercise for this year. I have had the privilege of visiting secondary schools in Ovamboland. Being there, I became aware of a strange phenomenon. I would for example sit and observe a history lesson. The teacher would be speaking Oshiwambo for 80% of the time. To make things worse, the teacher would immediately translate an English word into Oshiwambo. The intention of the teacher is obvious; speaking in Oshiwambo will guarantee that the learner/student understands. However, there are two challenges here. Firstly, speaking Oshiwambo throughout the lesson will disqualify learners/students from growing their English vocabulary. Secondly, translating every word makes the learners/student lazy, because there is no need to pay attention to the English word because the translation will come soon. Allow me to share a little observation: the medium of instruction (unfortunately) is English and the exams will not be written in any vernacular! If you, dear teacher, teach your learners/students in your vernacular, how do you expect them to even write an essay, if their English vocabulary is skinny? Can we agree that there is a contradiction, here?
To all teachers Namibia wide, speak English during your lessons! your learner/student’s ears must get used to English, so that they can understand the questions on their examination papers. It will also grow their vocabulary. If you teach in Zambezi, speak English. If you teach in Opuwo, speak English. Do not get cosy with your vernacular. Speak 80% English and only 20% vernacular. Dear principal, this simple exercise has the potential to boost the results of your school.
*Shapumba ya Shapumba is the founder of Natural Learning Education Consultancy. He teaches How to Obtain A+ in Any Subject (students) and The Secret To Extraordinary Teaching (teachers); for booking: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0812786925