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“I am not going to fold my arms and watch you fail. You are way smarter than you are acting right now. You sit in the class and mess about. Those who are not half as intelligent as you, do their work, hand in their papers and get their marks, while you sit there and wallop in laziness. Don’t think that I hate you. I love you and care for you. Now move your butt inside the classroom and get on with your work” the teacher berated Faouk.

“Thank you teacher. I will do my work now teacher.” Faouk replied.

Ten minutes into the lesson, Faouk was sleeping. His head was resting on the desk, the hoodie, over his face and snoring away.

“Wake Faouk up” the teacher yelled. Saif who was sitting next to him shook him gently and he awoke and stared into the space for a moment and dropped his head again.

“Saif wake him up” the teacher carried on.

Saif, shook him harder and said something like “Habibi…”

The teacher went about from group to group discussing with the students how to complete the table they were working on from the information sheet. It was a complex task that needed a lot of observation skills, sorting skills and thinking skills. It was crafted to take at least one solid hour to complete. The smart ones would get it done in 45 minutes to an hour and the less able ones would perhaps finish the task in 70 to 80 minutes. By this time the lesson would be ended. The review happened as each student brought their sheet to the teacher for marking and correction. This was what Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi loved. The students doing most of the work while he oscillated around the room facilitating learning. It also helped him in his work as a teacher because students love to talk nonstop, so this sort of task gave them the opportunity to talk nonstop and be relaxed. Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi has a maxim – the right minimal input produces max output. He would often retire to his desk at the elevated podium while the students came to him. This empowered him. This made him feel so good.

The teacher left his desk and walked down to Faouk and tapped him. He sprang up. Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi asked him to go to the bathroom and wash his face and come right back. Faouk stood up groggily and dragged himself out of the room.

To the far left corner at the back of the room, another group was busy, plotting the table with information from the data sheet. Samba was talking nonstop as usual. The teacher popped by the table.

“How are we coming along?” he asked

“Good” everybody chorused.

“Let’s have a look at what we are doing” he said

He pulled a chair from a side desk and sat with the group. He took a good look at Mazooq’s paper, Raqeel’s and Hassan’s and they all seemed to be on task. Samba’s paper was empty yet he was the cleverest of all the lot.

“Can I speak to you outside Samba” the teacher requested.

“Mr. N, I am just about to do my work…” he babbled.

“Stop right there. First of all my name is Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi and not Mr. N”

“But, that’s too hard to pronounce”

“No, it’s not. I pronounce all of your names right”

“But our names are easy and not as difficult as yours”

“How come the rest of the boys can say my name , rather attempt to say my name and you opt for the lazy man guide which is Mr. N, not even Mr. Nsuto, huh?

“Sorry teacher”

“Anyways, I need to speak to you outside now please”

Once outside the room, Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi saw Faouk on the floor in the corridor slumbering his life away.

Samba burst into a fit of laughter and infected Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi with it too.

“Once again I am going to be very clear. I am not going to watch you disappoint yourself. I do care for you and I do know your true potential. I am paid to ensure you work to the best of your ability. You may not like me for now which I don’t really mind, but five to ten years down the line, you will be looking through all social media network to locate me and thank me for being right on your case. All your mates are feeding off your IQ and you end up losing.”

“How teacher?”

“Because you do not do your work and hand it in.”

“But teacher look, Faouk is here sleeping, me I am not sleeping, I am awake in the classroom studying.”

“Are you comparing yourself with Faouk?”

“But he is a student too and in my class teacher, he is sleeping, me not sleeping.”

“My question is are you comparing yourself with Faouk? Put it this way, why don’t you compare yourself with Sallendo?”

“Sallendo? Sallendo is crazy teacher. He is too serious. Always study study study. No smile, no play. He is crazy”

“That is exactly my point, you don’t need to compare yourself with Faouk then who is always sleeping sleeping sleeping and not doing any work. Compare yourself with your true potential, your true capabilities and as your teacher I can tell you that you are under performing. You need to step up your game. You understand me Samba?”

“Yes teacher.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Go inside and do my work.”

“Good man!”

Samba went inside. Faouk turned over and curled himself up some more and changed snoring gears.

Once inside Samba picked his papers up and did the right thing.

Day in day out, this process carried on. Talking to folks outside, inside, in an office, quietly, with a firm tone, with data analysis, etc. Yet, some are salvaged and some are lost for now.

Experience had taught Mr. Nsutomkpoidomi not to waste all his time on those who do not even want to be salvaged. Better lose one, two, three, four, perhaps five, than lose the entire class because all the energy is devoted on the recalcitrant students. That same energy could and should be invested on the ones with the right attitude and the results are always fascinating.

The other ones will catch up sooner or later or perhaps never. However the teacher is not guilty.


  1. Very interesting short story. A committed teacher who is very concerned about his pupils future. This species of teacher is quite uncommon this days, at least in our clime,Africa. Bravo Ummana

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