Beyond classes

Learning does not only take place within a classroom as students develop during extra-curricular activities too.

MOST teachers will readily agree that a significant part of students’ character development happens outside the usual classroom setting and during extra-curricular activities.

It is during activities such as camps, debates, drama, games and competitions that many important skills and qualities like leadership, team-work and perseverance, are actually developed and honed.

To those of us who are more deeply invested into this, there is a definite and unique sense of fulfilment that comes with being part of these various stages of our students’ growth. We feel proud when we see our students become more confident, articulate, independent and capable. Beyond the school’s official records, we who have been there with our students have our own mental records of their progress — from the time they first came to us, nervous and a little uncertain, to the time they are able to stand with confidence and self-assurance on a stage. They are able to perform in front of a packed audience or ready to take command of troops of students under their leadership. It warms our hearts in a way no academic transcript ever can do, perhaps because here we are closer to life itself and get a better view of the kind of people they will become in the future.

And yet there are times when this same situation that fills us with so much of joy also causes disappointments and discontent. It is both sad and frustrating when parents and sometimes even teachers fail to give the vital support that is needed to make a particular co-curriculum project succeed. Teachers sometimes have to deal with the feeling of frustration and helplessness when students who show so much promise or are exceptionally talented, are not allowed by their parents to take part in activities or competitions for the reason that it “interferes with their school studies”.

Showing potential

It is difficult not to bite our tongue at times like this or even feel a sense of righteous indignation when we hear about school leavers who fail to impress potential employers during interviews or are unable to project themselves well despite having a list of academic credentials. It is highly probable that the crucial life skills which may have been inculcated in school through activities outside the classroom, never even had a chance to take root in their entire schooling life.

Although it is quite understandable that not everyone in school may share the same enthusiasm or passion for a certain student activity, it does rankle when your students’ extra-curricular efforts or achievements are passed off lightly or downplayed by other teachers who have little knowledge of the effort and commitment that has made them come this far.


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