Under performers in a school, a psychological insight

There’s no absolute set of attributes that qualifies a child to be labelled as a slow learner
"Moreover, in no case a teacher could be biased or having an ill will towards just one or two students amid the whole class of students for any justifiable reasons." [Image for representational purpose only]
"Moreover, in no case a teacher could be biased or having an ill will towards just one or two students amid the whole class of students for any justifiable reasons." [Image for representational purpose only] Mubashir Khan/ GK File


After the genes that a young child inherits from parents, in all probability, it is his immediate environment, particularly the environment of the house/family the child is brought up in, that greatly determines his pace of learning during his early stages.

And which has a lasting impact on his later years of learning too, to the extent that it can largely determine whether such a child would be a future genius or merely a child categorized as a slow learner.

Many readers here (with regards to the slow learner) may not agree with me, and disagreeing is both their right and prerogative. But while looking at this issue from the surface, mostly people jump the guns (as usually happens) and bluntly choose shifting the sole responsibility from the family environment, (that i am actually here critical about) to the schools or the teachers who teach such a child, believing that it is the school, rather a teacher who doesn’t pay sufficient attention to a certain child in the class, thereby eventually pushing him to the category of lowest performers called the slow learners.

Thus as usual, in this subject matter too, the fingers are raised towards none other than a soft target - a teacher, not withstanding the vivid fact that out of a good number of children in the class, it is usually a couple of such children that are identified as slow learners, not the whole class.

Moreover, in no case a teacher could be biased or having an ill will towards just one or two students amid the whole class of students for any justifiable reasons. Besides, every school in itself is essentially a place promoting equality and uniformity among all its students, no matter what the background of students maybe.

And even if, for the sake of argument, we suppose such a thing being possible, then presuming all other teachers also singling out and giving the same treatment to the same one or two children would be just another level of stupidity and idiocy one can think of.

In an attempt to decode certain things related to this slow learner child, let us be clear about certain things, that there is nothing like absolute slow learner existing on the face of earth. To make it simple, there’s no absolute set of attributes that qualify a child to be called or labelled as a slow learner.

The fact is that being a slow learner is a relative phenomenon, as is the case with being a fast learner. And thus it is possible that a slow learner of one school could be a fast learner or even a genius of another school. And a so called slow learners of any school at present could probably have been counted as among the top or creamy layer students of the same school, some ten/twenty odd years ago.

Secondly, and which actually is the core focus of this whole discourse here and which probably can help go deeper into the realms of child psychology to figure out the major cause/s that are actually responsible for creating a slow learner and that are (besides some subtle causes) fundamentally responsible for hampering their pace of learning.

In this context, my personal understanding, being a teacher who is dealing with small children for many years now, somehow tells me, that this slow learning issue of children is exclusively an early age phenomenon. My observations concerning such children makes me firmly believe that this slow learning pace has a lot to do with the children’s family environment, particularly lack of a stimulating environment in the very families/houses where these children live, are brought up and spend major part of initial years of their life, particularly pre school years.

Moreover, there’s no denying the fact that every house/family doesn’t offer similar or sufficient quantum of learning stimuli to their growing children at their early stages, which child psychologists particularly believe and emphasize, are extremely crucial for the development of all the mental faculties of such young budding children.

And factually, this lack or the deficiency of the stimulating environments in families is there for number of reasons, as every family obviously is a different family with different set of dynamics working within it, viz, different interests, different priorities, motives, goals, challenges and indeed the difficulties faced by them as a result or reflection of the underlying philosophy or a belief system that the family is living with.

With the result, the pulls and pressures and the possible hardships or challenges that life could be throwing to families of such unlucky children could be in the form of financial constraints or it maybe a prolonged debilitating health issues of some family member in the house, that again can potentially push such families to severe financial crisis, or could be even posing a risk of starvation to the family. These are not the only reasons for families lacking a healthy environment for proper growth and constructive development of their children. It could be a lingering toxic relationship between parents of the child or other family members that could be making life of the whole family a hell, thereby leaving everyone in family frustrated.

And such state of affairs could be turning such houses as merely an abode of despondency, hopelessness and an abode of depression of pathological levels.

And such situations in the families are bound to lay bad or painful imprints on the young budding minds of families which eventually manifests in them in various ways and forms like a serious issue of “Attention deficit syndrome” that’s seen in such children in classroom while the teacher is teaching as these children are often absorbed in their inner devastated worlds, yet they maybe physically present in the classroom. Thus their declining interest in school takes such a student to another level, which evidence suggests, that these today’s low performers or slow learners happen to be a tomorrow’s school dropouts. Thus being once a slow learner for all these causes has a great bearing on the school dropout ratios as well.

And thus obviously such atmosphere in the houses leaves very less scope for the growing children to be fed with something that’s substantial and that’s stimulating for the grey matter of their brain to promote some meaningful learning in them and to keep pace with other children that they are either facing in class or are soon going to face once they are admitted in a school.

While I say, they should be fed with something substantial, I definitely don’t just mean only material things like eatables or money that should be provided. Rather it encompasses a host of things or activities which can be summed up as “spending a good or quality time with the children” .

However this quality time spending could mean so many things like listening to what children have to say regarding what they feel about different things they see happening around. It could also mean speaking to them, telling them stories that interest them the most in a funny or playful way and drawing morals out of those stories to lay a strong foundations for their beliefs and character. And indeed, it includes spending some great moments with them which can even include taking them to outings as well, because as child psychologists tell us, that children being innately inquisitive in nature, they need to be fed with more and more new situations and scenarios to challenge their curious minds to draw new patterns and meanings out of it and temporarily settle their curiosity, until it takes them to a new level of curiosity and an ever increasing thirst to know more.

To substantiate these observations about the effects of this heterogeneity in family environments, it is often observed that the children of rich, affluent, and children particularly brought up in happy and joyful families are substantially different from those children brought up in dull and depressed environments. And experience does tell us that dull and depressed families do produce deaf and dumb children, while as lively and joyful families produce children who are interactive and assertive in nature as learning at young stages is majorly an outcome of interactions with such children.

But environments of some unfortunate families (for above mentioned reasons) is found so dull and colourless that it almost matches that of a cemetery, with utter dead silence prevailing from all the sides right, left, front and back.

In contrast, in case of the well to do families, adults consciously spend a good time with growing children, as children in such houses are a priority. They are considered as future and hope for the family and accordingly given their due share of attention that they deserve. And with the result, such children have a good amount of learning, even before they have formally joined any school, which as a matter of fact also makes their transition from their home to school quite easy and joyful.

While the child of a family with no reasons to be happy and cheerful usually suffer from maladjustment issues in the beginning of his schooling, besides the later slow learning issues that he faces and that ultimately gives him a tag of kind of an untouchable in the class or school as a slow learner.

John Mohammad is a school teacher

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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