Inquisitive Versus Hyperactive Learners

As a teacher, I have had cause to come across different groups of learners ranging from my teaching practice experience and full time field teaching from both public and private schools, lower and upper basic. We all know that human being possess one significant attribute called individual differences. And in education, one of the good qualities of a teacher is the ability to identity these unique differences that exists among learners. An argument between a parent and my co-teacher one day in school prompted me to come up with this post.

Some parents take every child that is outspoken to be an inquisitive child. Well, soon we will know how true that assumption seems!

Before we proceed, it is important we look at the meaning of the terms inquisitive and hyperactive learners.

So Who Is An Inquisitive Learner?

As a teacher, I simply define the term inquisitive learner as an individual who exhibits the habit of making inquiry, research, asking questions with the intention to know more about a given phenomenon, situation or subject matter. What I am saying in essence is that inquisitive is having the mind or eagerness for knowledge. Intellectually speaking, I can actually use the word curiosity as a synonym for inquisitive.

Who is Hyperactive Learner?

A Hyperactive learner is that individual who is quick to respond to issues unnecessarily and most times, his response does not correspond to the subject matter discussed. Here in Nigeria, we use the phrase over sabi (know it all) to describe such individuals.

Hyperactive Versus Inquisitive Learners

In education, teachers are faced with different issues especially in classroom management. One of these issues is dealing with individual characteristics. In the classroom, there are fast or gifted learners, average learners, slow learners, and even special learners (here I referred to learners with learning impairments). All these categories of learners exhibit different characters towards learning. It is easy to distinguish among these categories of learners but it is sometimes not so easy to draw the line between a hyperactive and an inquisitive learner especially when you are not a trained teacher or one that is observant.

Characteristics of An Inquisitive Learner

As a teacher, you are bound to find the following in an inquisitive learner. An inquisitive learner is an individual whose learning capacity is broad and limitless. He is ever ready to take up challenge, see to the end of any given task. He is restless until a desired goal is achieved. He mingles with people who he sees are better than himself. He is friendly to that teacher who gives him room to enquire more and more but sees the one who shuts him up as a stumbling block. An inquisitive learner is confident. He delivers a given task without fears and with little or no errors.

Characteristics of Hyperactive Learner

Parents of hyperactive children sometimes may not know their children are hyperactive. Now you must have heard some parents or teacher say something like “this child of mine is very smart and intelligent but he is extremely stubborn”. When you hear a statement that goes with the word “but”, you should know that all is not well. And if you have cause to ask such parents why they think that child is intelligent, they will simply tell you that the child is outspoken, he makes attempt to give answer to every questions and so on. Some parents even get frustrated trying to scold and correct the child at all times. Some have had cause to ask questions like ” oh God what kind of a child is this, why is he so different amongst my children, why can’t he stay a moment without troubles? Some will have to force the child to sleep so as to have some peace. When a teacher writes a topic on the board, they are the first to say “teacher, I know it, even when you haven’t asked a question. Most times, when class work is given, they are always the first to submit but gets it wrong, and the moment the teachers sounds correction, then you will hear something like “oh, okay I thought its like this”, so they repeat a given task over and over again before they eventually get it right. These are often annoying. All of these and many more depicts that hyperactivity manifest differently in children. If you are that parent or teacher who is fond of flogging as a way of scolding one particular child amongst your children, its time you stopped and take a look at the following characteristics:

Hyperactive learner is that individual whose learning capacity is controlled by emotional instability. He is often restless sitting in class and may fidget with his hands or feet and even squirm in his seat. He talks excessively. Runs and climbs where it’s inappropriate. Has trouble playing quietly. He is extremely impatient, so can’t wait for his turn. Always seems to be “on the go or driven by a motor. He is quick to give out answers before a question is even completed. He also interrupts or intrudes on others conversations and activities. When a hyperactive learner is corrected, he thinks you hates him and he is never satisfied until he is allowed to say whatever he has to say whether correct or wrong. He is a multitask individual, he moves from one task to another without completing any. If you are that parent that whenever you go out with your child you are never comfortable until you get home, then you should consider observing that child. He might just be suffering from hyperactivity. That is not to say that your child is abnormal. He has only got excessive energy which must be exerted through activities. So don’t expect such a child to stay quiet.

How do I know if my child is Hyperactive?

Before you conclude that your child may be hyperactive, do note that there are behaviours associated with hyperactivity which children normally exhibit at early stage of development.

Do note too that if your child have difficulty engaging in activities quietly which other children can carry out successfully, and even act as if he is driven by a motor, he may have this problem. Hyperactivity is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which is abbreviated as ADHD. The actual cause of this disorder is not known. People are not sure what exactly causes the problem whether it is medical, genetic or behavioral but learners I have come across with that seems to exhibit these characters are more of male than female. If you ask me, I will simply tell you I don’t know why or may be because females have this motherly instinct in them.

Teachers Coping Strategy For Hyperactive Learners

Most parents and even teachers get confused as not knowing what to do or how to handle children with hyperactivity. sometimes most parents may not know that their child is hyperactive. They sometimes take hyperactivity for inquisity. It takes a trained and observant teacher to identify or diagnose these problems among children. As a teacher, from experience, I must tell you that coping with these set of learners is usually tedious. But I will suggest you put into practice the following to help these children with ADHD.

Allow the child to play during break: As a teacher, I will advice you don’t withhold the child from playing during break as excessive energy are burned when children are engaged in activities such as play. Studies have proven that free periods or break can actually promote focus in children with ADHD. So its not the perfect time to make-up missed schoolwork or make the child serve any punishment.
Teacher/learner relationship: As a teacher, it is important you establish a positive relationship with learners who have ADHD. These attitude include calling them by name to draw their attention in the class. Make use of bulletin to display learners academic performance and co-curricular interests such as artwork, photography, sports, dance, music, etc, so as to know the child’s area of interest.
Positive reinforcement: Teachers should always use positive reinforcements such “excellent performance, bravo, wonderful, very good, you got it right, you are doing a great job, oh you tried but do it better next time, and many more”. This is because learners with ADHD respond quickly to feedback that is not prolonged but immediate.

Be slow to place judgement: Do not be quick to reprimand when the child does something wrong rather, draw him close and ask certain questions like; why have you done this? This thing you have done is it good or bad? Relate a story to that incident and make him see the negative consequences of his actions. That way, he will get the message that his behavior is inappropriate.
Partnering with parents: It is necessary for teachers to partner with Parents of hyperactive learners so as to make assessment easy. Hyperactive learners are fond of reporting their teachers whenever they are scolded. So parents should not always take such report seriously, and don’t make the mistake of speaking ill of the teacher concerned in the presence of that child, rather, see the teacher and have one on one discussion. As parents, ensure too that your child’s learning materials are in place before the child leaves for school as most of these children are careless with possessions. Both teachers and parents should keep track of the child’s academic performance to know the level of the child’s Progress.

Is Hyperactivity Forever?

Hyperactivity is not a lifelong disorder. A child with hyperactivity gets better as he grows in age, undergo development and mingles with the larger society. Though, their level of maturity differs among their peers of same age.

Note: Children with hyperactivity are not dullards. They only have difficulty in organizing or articulating their logical reasoning. That’s why they are always forward to respond to questions. Most of the time, their response may be wrong not that they don’t know the right answer but their inability to patiently organize their answers make them end up with low grades. That’s why as teachers we sometimes expect a particular learner to come top in the class but we end up getting the opposite. Hyperactivity is sometimes responsible for that. Though some other issues such as excessive play, depression, anxiety, etc may be responsible for learners who once made good grades to fall low. So all failures should not be attributed to hyperactivity except the learner in question exhibit the characteristics. These are my thoughts. However, your contributions are highly welcomed as no one is an epitome of knowledge.

Gloria Ogunbor.