A letter to the teachers of English: 94Why students drop out of schools: A study (3) [Archives:2005/870/Education]

August 22 2005

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,

We were discussing the problem of homework in the last letter. The private schools give the parents a wrong idea that their children learn more if they do more homework.But what they didn't realize was that most of the homework was done by the educated parents at home instead of their children. This concept of 'more homework, the more learning' is not true any more. More learning is possible only if the students participate in classroom activities willingly and so there is a strong need for increasing the amount of challenging and interesting classroom activities for the students to participate in them. I have made many suggestions in my earlier letters as to how to engage the students in challenging activities in the classrooms. An imaginative and thoughtful teacher can innovate a large number of activities for his/her students. Moreover, I have argued in one of my earlier letters that students in Yemen, most of them, both at the school and college levels, are expected to work in their free time and add to the income of the families so that they can continue their studies (some of them work for the qat expenses of their parents too!), and they hardly have time to do their homework; it is unsympathetic to load them with homework. We can spend a few minutes in each class to make them do with our help what they are expected to do at home; I have found this working in my classes very successfully.

Motivating activities act as an incentive to any child; I have seen students fighting with their parents to allow them to go to school on the day when they participate in a school play or concert or sports activities in the school. In one of my very early letters I made a suggestion as to how to make use of the 'thaboor' sessions in schools to improve students' English. Cultural activities, sports and games, picnics are some of the motivating activities which can keep the students tied to the schools and reduce the drop out rate to a large extent.

Fear of failure is a strong deterrent to our students, especially the girls. My experience in Yemen consists of several examples to prove this. Yemeni students are over crazy about marks; I can understand one's fear of failure but not the craziness about marks, sometimes they overestimate themselves and suffer when their estimation is wrong. I have discussed enough in my letters “Punished by rewards” in this regard. It is necessary that the teachers should provide the objective feedback of the students' performance in the classes, not to give them a false hope about their abilities; giving them false hopes leads them to greater consequences.

Parent- teacher cooperation is an essential ingredient for the development of the students, especially in schools. Many schools have 'parents-teachers associations' for this purpose, but most of them are unfortunately 'parent-(head)teacher association' doing nothing for the development of the students. Teachers can have personal contact with the parents of their students, especially those who problems, and discuss their children's performance and behaviour and suggest what the parents should do in order to help their children; it is more important in the case of illiterate parents.

Yours fraternally,