Learners: Your responsibility in the classroom

Have you ever wondered – or tried to calculate – exactly how much time you spend at school?

Whether you enjoy school or not, this is something to think about, isn’t it?

Here’s the answer: In South Africa there are about 200 school days in a normal school year. On average you will spend about 7.5 hours of a normal day in school.

If that sounds too terrible for words, consider this: in Japan, the country with the most school days in the year, they have 220-240 school days per year. Approximately 60% of Japanese high school learners still go to juku or yobiko (‘cram schools’) after school where they have additional lessons! (Read here if you would like to learn more about Japanese schools: 10 Surprising Facts about Japanese Schools. Daily life as a student in Japan).

Because you spend such a significant portion of your life in school it is very important to use this time and opportunity to your best advantage.

Think about it like this:
YOU play a crucial – and active – role in your own education.

Although you play an active role in your own education, most of the time you are a passive listener in class.

In fact, your first role as a learner is to listen i.e. to pay attention in class.

Passive listening is listening without reacting (until the time is right to do so) and allowing someone (the teacher or a classmate asking a question) to speak without any interruption from your side.

Passive listening is one-way communication – from teachers to learners.

Also, don’t rule out how much you learn from the observations, perceptions and questions of other learners.

But beware – there are two kinds of passive listeners:

  1. A passive listener who is also an active listener at the same time – this is what you should strive for
  2. A passive listener who doesn’t necessarily interrupt the teacher but who might be texting during class, or doing another subject’s homework or preventing learners sitting close by from listening to the information conveyed in class

The responsibilities of an active listener are:

  • Focus on what is being said by the teacher.
  • Give the teacher your undivided attention.
  • Don’t assume you already know the work.
  • Listen for verbal cues (e.g. the teacher emphasising a particular word or concept by placing emphasis on what is being said) and watch for non-verbal cues (e.g. the facial expression of the teacher, the teacher pointing at specific notes etc).
  • If you do not understand what is explained, wait for the appropriate moment, indicated by the teacher, to ask questions or to ask the teacher to expand or clarify what was said.

The basic responsibilities of a learner at school are:

  • Attend all classes on time.
  • Be prepared for class: go with the right attitude and mindset and take everything you need with you.
  • Participate in classroom discussions.
  • Complete reading, homework or any assignment given.
  • Show respect to everyone.
  • Do your best at all times.