Home Essays My Priority List by Esther Oluwatuyi.

My Priority List by Esther Oluwatuyi.



It was so early to be on a queue that was similar to the one which led me to a state of pain and regret the last time I had to stand with some others who had same outfits as mine. I waited impatiently, having no idea why a queue was created in the first place. One thing I sensed around the corner was discomfort- a painful discomfort. I tried asking some others whom I thought knew the reason for the queue. No one said a word, but the expressions on their faces spoke in a way I understood, as that was my facial expression too. Although we were all on queue for same reason, some still had entirely different faces from ours, some were calm, and some others were strong and hard, sort of. Not too long after my questions, Mr. Tony came around, and in his hands was the object known to cause the pain we feared- the cane.

“Oh! no!”, I exclaimed.

“Not this time”, I cried.

I was still recovering from the brain-touching, painful strokes he gave the previous week, and here I was waiting to receive more. Now, the reason for the queue became not just known, but clear: his assignment was long over-due and after several pleas, he reduced the intensity of our punishment- according to him, extended the deadline for submission, and then, we still did not meet-up. Maybe the queue was actually needed. Okay! Whatever was going to happen, I just was not ready to get flogged- at all. Something had to happen and yes! – At that very instance. So the chase began.

I had left the line to run for my tender back as the flogging started. Soon after, I noticed some prefects running too and, of course, they were after me. I was so sure Mr. Tony did not join the chase because he was the one using the cane, but somehow, my next turn around the school compound ended the chase as my Physics teacher, Mr. Tony grabbed my arm, ready to use some Newtonian-physics laws on me with the object in his hand, and then I jumped out of bed.

“Phhewww! Thank God”, I said, holding my arm.

It was a dream, and so much fear gripped me. It seemed like I had escaped, but in milli-seconds, it dawned on me that I just saw the future. Thoughts ran through my head so quickly.

“His assignment”, I screamed.

It was Friday morning and I had way less than two hours to prepare for school. My parents were on a family and business trip. My prep for school included my two little twin siblings as I was the oldest of four.  My immediate younger sister could handle herself so, I had to get three students prepared for school- counting me. I stood, trying to prioritize my morning activities. I could not even sit, and then I recalled a quote by Mark Twain which my dad usually gave whenever he was not happy with our attitudes: ‘if you want to change the future, you must change what you’re doing in the present’. Just then, I recognized that I could change my future which I had just seen by changing my priority in the present. I needed to work out something. I picked up my physics books, tried working out the exercises, as I thought of my other activities. I did all those unsettled.

As secondary school students, we refer to our homework as assignments, and we were made to understand that they improve academic skills as they were designed to reinforce what students had already learned, and increase knowledge too. In a way, those were true facts about assignments, but as my knowledge of physics increased that morning, so did my anxiety. Some hours earlier- late last night, I had dozed off as I worked on my Maths and Economics assignment, that was after I had coordinated and assisted my younger siblings with their assignments, asides the chores and issues I had to sort out at home.  One shocking scene I witnessed much later that day was the complaint a concerned parent came to lay as regards these same assignments. The parent complained that her ward was not given enough assignments to hinder him from playing video-games, and there I was, knowing fully well that grades from homework were just for the books we took home- they never reflected in our overall grades, I wished I had less or no assignments from school, especially from Mr. Tony. Back then, our teachers reiterated their researched-facts that researchers had proven that teenage students who spent somewhat more time on homework generally had higher grades than students who spent less time on homework. What we never knew was that same researchers also proved that very high amounts of homework caused students’ academic performance to worsen.

As regards the question which I have always wanted to provide a positive answer to- ‘should teachers give less assignments to students?’, I have come to understand that there are several factors to consider and it is a good thing that results of homework studies vary based on multiple factors, such as age group and the measure of academic performance. Considering my life as a student, during the time I recalled earlier, another factor I would love to add is the set of activities on my priority list.


Esther Oluwatuyi wrote in from aniketuyi@gmail.com

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