A Book Every Form One Should Read With Avidity 

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A book Every Form One Should Read With Avidity 
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© Victor Ochieng’

William Arthur Ward talked of four steps to achievement: One, planning purposefully. Two, preparing prayerfully. Three, proceeding positively. And four, pursuing persistently. Starting High School: Form One Transition Guide, is a good book that sheds bright light on these steadfast steps that can equip a Form One student with stupendous starting strong strategies. 

This good food to the mind was presented to us by Dr. F. Musitwa, Dr. V. Mukite, Fidelis Nakhulo and Kahi. A. Indimuli. The last co-author in this giant list of titans is the chairperson of Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA). 

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Boys and girls poised to join Form One, should grab a copy, and read it with avidity and ferocity. The book is a good guide to Form Ones on matters time management, ways of coping with peer pressure, warding off herd mentality, wise use of pocket money, taking care of hygiene and health, some study strategies, making friends, cordial relations with teachers, mitigation and management stress. 

Moving from primary to secondary school is a significant step in the life of any learner. Being a new environment, every learner requires to adjust, adapt and advance. Knowing what to expect can help a Form One survive and thrive in this place which is a melting pot of plenty people. 

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A firm foundation must be set right at Form One level. In order to understand the prominent place of starting strong, consider this analogy. The Calgary Tower stands at 190.8 metres. The total weight of the tower is 10,884 tonnes, of which 6,349 tons is below the ground (approximately 60 per cent).

This deftly depicts that some of the tallest buildings that grace this grand globe have the strongest foundations. Just like a tall building that kisses the sapphire sky and caresses the clouds is anchored on a firm foundation, so does success in secondary school. Attitude is the foundation of success. Attitude, which is equal to mindset plus beliefs, determines one’s ability to access success. Attitude plays an integral part in learning, which is defined as change of behaviour and attitude. So, learning is not just acquisition of necessary knowledge and requisite skills. 

In retrospect, no student can excel and execute exploits in high school without diligence plus discipline. Jim Rohn put it aptly: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” There are different forms of discipline: academic discipline, self-discipline, mind-level discipline, external discipline and self-drive. External discipline can be broken down into humility (meekness) and obedience submission). Self-discipline is the inner ability to control and motivate yourself to do what is good and right. It is also self-conquest. Or the ability to conquer wild desires. It can also be explored in umpteen ways. One, self-control – the ability to regulate thoughts, impulses and actions. Two, self-denial – the willingness to undergo personal trials without fizzling out. Three, delayed gratification – willingness to wait for a larger reward later. Four, consistent goal-oriented action – the habit to direct yourself to continuously act or do something aligned with your goals and aspirations. Harry Truman sagely said: “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first.”

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Indeed, only those who desire to reach and keep their places at the top must be prepared to be masters of themselves before they become masters of others. Every learner must resist drug abuse, aberrant sexual behaviour, laziness and lassitude. 

Moreover, every student must purpose to choose friends wisely. The sage said that when your cloths are made of leaves, you don’t take a goat as a friend. Bad friends will prevent you from having good ones. If you imitate the upright, you become upright, but when you imitate the crooked, you become crooked. In Proverbs 13:20, the winsome wisdom of Solomon sternly warns us: He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools will be utterly destroyed. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Apostle Paul penned that bad company corrupts good morals. 

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Again, high school is the best place to learn matters money management. Knowing how to manage moolah at an early age, acts as a launching pad to financial fortune in the far future. Every student must know how to save, plan, budget, set pecuniary goals and be financially disciplined. These skills can be learnt through proper use of pocket money. The amount received from the parent or guardian is normally hinged on two things: what they can afford, and what the money is expected to cover – or defray. 

In order to catch this concept, is wise to differentiate wants from needs. Needs should come first, and if there is an amount left after taking care of needs, one can consider wants. Needs are those things you cannot do without. Things like academic tools. But you can sail through without wants like buying snacks in every break from classroom. 

Consequently, those who can manage time are wise while those who cannot are otherwise. In Psalms 90:12, the psalmist made a passionate prayer, petitioning God to teach him to number his days, that he may apply his heart to wisdom. Every moment counts. Today is directly proportional to tomorrow, God’s favour being a constant. Therefore, as a student, set priorities right – do first things first. Obey your daily what-to-do list and personal study schedule or an all-inclusive time table. 

Over and above, while holed up in school, it is healthy to participate in co-curricular activities like athletics, ball games, swimming, music, drama, et cetera. A student should join societies and clubs that are in line with the dream career. These activities hone life skills and soft skills like resilience, endurance, commitment, communication, creativity, teamwork, negotiation – and problem solving – are nurtured. 

In the whole scheme of things, some subjects in high school may look difficult, but with the right study habits, everything is possible. Habits are mental shortcuts learnt from experience. Habits are also repeated patterns of behaviour. Aristotle sagely said: “We become what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act but a habit.”

Therefore, challenging concepts must be demystified and simplified through regular class attendance and robust reading ritual. No student should succumb to the jaws of defeat and despair. For Dwight D. Eisenhower advised: “No one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves.” In high school, subjects are diverse. Exams do not have multiple choice questions. This calls for marvellous mastery and memory enhancement strategies. 

Lastly, an ounce of practice, can wrought miracles. Michael Jordan put it aptly that before he could shoot a three-point score with his eyes closed, he practised it diligently 3,000 times. High school subjects require a multi-step approach – precipitated with persistent practice. Practice makes perfect. Practice makes permanent. Practice is the battlefield in which perfection is won. 

The writer rolls out Form One Plug-in Programmes in Secondary Schools. He speaks to Teachers, Students and Parents During Induction & Orientation Days. [email protected]. 0704420232

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