Student Aggression and the Future of Gambia’s Pedagogy

Musa Touray

By Musa Touray, Sandu Kuwonku

It is said that education without morality is tantamount to nonentity. This provides an ideal explanation for the unwarranted depreciation of education in modern times. It is nothing other than the uncouth behaviour of students towards their teachers.

Over the years teachers have fallen victim to student rebellion and its daunting ramifications. Students smuggle dangerous weapons to school and unleash them on their teachers at the slightest skirmish. Female teachers are most often the victims of such violence!

As a result, many teachers are of the view that continuing with the profession in the face of unexampled armed aggression is like signing one’s death warrant. If you think I’m blowing the case out of proportion, well, you have not been on social media to see grievances of various teachers who are highly perturbed by the physical attacks on their colleagues in different schools.

But what is even worrying is the scarily close succession of the recent student attacks. Does it mean there is a communication network between students in various schools that teachers are not aware of? Is this a foreboding of systemic student revolt against teachers? It is therefore imperative for schools to be proactive and to set up disciplinary standards that will keep uncorteous students at bay.

Parents, unfortunately, side with their children when they fault teachers and when the case morphs into police action. Such parents are sending bad signals to their children and are not rearing them in consistency with the social etiquette.

If students are not grateful to teachers for enduring small salaries to impart in them knowledge and skills, the least they should do is frustrate them. I can’t imagine the depth of ignorance that would swallow us if teachers turn their backs on teaching.

Student cooperation is fundamental in the art of pedagogy. We have seen how some of our teachers fume at roistering students when lessons are underway. How angry would they then be when students not only cooperate in class or fail to do their assignments, but go a notch higher to physically assault them?

A wise student would sit and mull over a minor offence on his teacher and rush to him for apology. A mature and intelligent student would never offend his teacher. He would be subservient to him and do whatever he can to earn his pleasure and knowledge.

It is also important to advise teachers who transcend their pedagogical boundaries to unduly prick the butterfly in innocent students. Even if a student holds a teacher in high regard, as expected of him, he might lose his cool to respond to provocations in unconventional ways. This would eventually darken the spirit of teaching and learning.

Both parties have a role to play to make teaching and learning effective and interesting. It’s a noble exercise with certain degree of mutualism. It is of immense benefit to both parties.

Students gain knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient individuals with high social relevance and recognition, while teachers, apart from the monetary accompaniments of the job, hone their public speaking skills to be poised for complex future appointments.

Student councillors should be active in zeroing in on unruly students and where necessary report them to the administration for disciplinary action. They should not be in cahoots with those students to advance their antisocial whims.

When one student is caught and faces punitive consequences such as indefinite suspension or even expulsion, others would learn from that and would either behave or leave the school.

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