No child is a dullard. This is one aspect of learning many people fail to acknowledge. That a student encounters challenges with learning does not mean he cannot learn under the right condition. These students are branded as weak because they do not pick up as fast as their peers. However, if they are placed in the right environment, they will excel like their peers, who are branded as “brilliant” or “intelligent”. The problem these students face in countries such as Nigeria is that the environment is unfavourable for them.
Researchers have discovered that children learn things differently. Some of them prefer learning new things by seeing and observing them (visual learners). Some prefer learning by listening (auditory learners) while others learn easily by practicing (kinaesthetic learners). In Nigeria, the first two types of learners are favoured by the education system. They are the types that are seen as brilliant and intelligent. Unfortunately, the third type of learners is left to fend for themselves because the system has little or no provision for them. Or rather, the provisions for them only exist in books.
Challenges of Kinaesthetic Learners in Nigeria
As stated above, the problems encountered by students that prefer learning through touching and moving things are caused by the neglect of the system. These children have been abandoned to face their problems by themselves. Those lucky enough to have wealthy educated parents are sent to schools that have facilities, which accommodate their learning preferences. Nevertheless, many of them are dumped in schools, where they float through without achieving much academically.
Well, the following are the challenges faced by learners that fall under this category:
Stigma: These learners have already been called weak, challenged, underachievers, and other derogatory names. In Nigeria, people are quick to call them “olodo” and “iti” as if it was their fault they couldn’t meet up to expectations. These learners begin, at a very young age, to see themselves as unintelligent without understanding why they were not like others. Some may become aggressive while others shy away from the public. They struggle and make efforts to follow class lessons just to show they are not abnormal but they end up at the bottom of the class grading. This discourages them and causes them to hate school. This can explain why we have school dropouts, especially among males.
Unsuitable Curriculum: Nigerian school curriculum favours visual and auditory learners more than it does kinaesthetic learners. The curriculum comprises fewer academic activities that require practical when compared to those that entail seeing pictures and listening to teachers. Of course, since things taught in schools are supposed to be materials within the society, students are expected to see them around their environments. Nevertheless, there are many abstract topics as a result of the unavailability of the concepts within the community or the students’ reach. Since kinaesthetic learners can only understand what their teachers taught and be able to store them in their memories by seeing, touching, and using objects, they will find it difficult to learn if teachers fail to provide those objects for practical use.
Unsuitable Teaching Methods: To be honest, it is uneasy for teachers with a class of about twenty or more students to use different teaching methods for a lesson to meet the diversity of their students. Teachers with kinaesthetic students face challenges because they need to keep them engaged and still meet the academic needs of other students. Kinaesthetic learners are usually restless and find it difficult to sit still throughout a lesson. Their interest spans are so short that if the teacher fails to hold their attention, they disrupt the class. This means the teacher has to devise means of keeping students like this busy while lessons go on. However, many teachers are not willing to do so. They continue with the teaching methods that favour the visual and auditory learners and punish kinaesthetic learners for “making noise”, “leaving the class often”, “pinching his neighbour”, “tearing books”, “failing simple question”, and other reasons that show the students want to “do something”. This can explain why students that are branded “stubborn”, “reckless”, “noisy”, “boisterous”, “destructive”, and so on are said to be intelligent yet they perform poorly academically.
Exam Anxiety: It might seem as if kinaesthetic learners are unafraid of anything. Their boisterous nature gives them the aura of the brave. But what people don’t know is that they are afraid of examinations. Unknown to many, these learners fear the grades they will make by the end of their exams. They believe they are not intelligent and so can never pass well. If they can have their ways, exams will be abolished. Note that these children are not afraid of the tasks in the tests; they fear they don’t know how to go about those tasks. They have either forgotten what they were taught or did not even know when they were taught. So, when they stare at their question papers and cannot come up with good answers, they supply the examiner with whatever their minds tell them and run out of the class. Of course, the Nigerian system of examination, even for primary school pupils, favours only visual and auditory learners.
There are so many kinaesthetic learners in Nigeria but they have been forced to study like the visual and the auditory learners. These children are suffering. They are passing through a lot of trauma, especially because they are regarded as failures. These children are the future innovators and inventors Nigeria has but our schools are frustrating them. All these children need are schools that will create rooms for them to bring out their skills. Special schools can be established for students with this learning preference so they can become the next Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.