On 5th October, 2018, Nigerian teachers joined their counterparts all over the world to remind the global community of the role of teachers in society.
“Teacher affects eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops”
– Henry Brooks Adams, American Historian (1838 – 1918)
In commemoration of this year’s World Teachers’ Day on 5th October, 2018, Nigerian teachers joined their counterparts all over the world to remind the global community of the role and importance of teachers in the society. The theme of this year, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”, is a clarion call to all private school owners and directors, as well as heads of federal and state government civil service commissions, who are saddled with the responsibility of employing teachers to ensure that only qualified hands are engaged. The theme also serves as a reminder that the right of a child to sound education cannot be realized without trained and qualified teachers. The level of knowledge of a learner is largely determined by that of the teacher. Qualified teachers will in turn breed academically sound students.
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It is not out of place to say that the teaching profession is indisputably the mother and source of all professions. The reason is clear; the teaching profession creates all other professions. As long as teaching is not limited to the classrooms, then there is no one (educated or uneducated) that has never been taught. Who takes up the role of a teacher in one’s life and what is being taught are also pivotal determining factors in the learning process.
Apart from school, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and other relatives, friends, neighbours and other associates have in one way or the other played a teacher’s role in our lives while growing up. What we were taught, maybe moral or religious education, whether good or bad is another subject for discussion entirely.
Everyone has been taught by someone at some point in life. Those people whom we have learned from or who have shared knowledge with us, regardless of what we were taught, are also teachers in our lives. There were things we learnt hook, line and sinker which we later unlearned, and for others, we retained on the basis of our moral judgement as good or bad.
The strong nexus between teaching and learning makes the two processes interwoven. The two go pari passu, more especially in the academic environment chiefly because they are the foundations of knowledge. However, the teaching process is streamlined and limited to teacher-student availability before it can take place while learning is wide and limitless. The learning process involves gaining knowledge by being taught, studying and experiencing. We learn all lifelong. One dies the moment he stops learning.
Arguably, learners can learn without teachers, but teachers can’t teach without learners. What the students know is what they have learned from their classroom and non-classroom teachers. So one can infer that, a student’s learning capacity is a function of his knowledgeability.
Sadly, in Nigeria today, as noble as this teaching profession is, it has become the last resort to frustrated job seekers. Teaching job provides a palliative alternative to their dream job and it is seen by many as the easiest profession to pursue, with or without passion. These untrained teachers that are only qualified by academic certificates but unqualified in the teaching profession, are found in our schools today. This is prevalently rife in most private schools and must be checkmated.
Imparting knowledge involves certain skills and methodology. Having a good knowledge of a subject area is one thing, sharing such knowledge is entirely something different as well too, in that special technique is required. This obviously plays out even among students. Some students, after acquiring the knowledge area, cannot perfectly share such knowledge with their fellow students. This is where the expertise of a qualified and trained teacher comes in.
Trained teachers have been wired, configured and cut out to teach to understand. My stubborn memory will not forget as it reminds me of my days as a part-time teacher at a private secondary school in Abule-Egba, Lagos. The director of the school devised a teaching technique for teachers, called “Teach-to-pass”, which was adopted for Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) bound students.
It worked as learning and understanding became easy for the students. It therefore shows that teachers are by nature flexible and non-rigid in their approach to teaching. The students or learners sometimes may dictate the teaching style to be adopted by the teacher. The learning environment, time of the day and subject to be taught all determine the teaching method to be employed by the teacher.
Let me also add that, it is revealing to know that while the teaching profession principally involves knowledge sharing with the students, I have found that it also teaches the teacher patience and emotional intelligence while on the job.
Teaching equips and strengthens the teacher in other non-academic areas of life. So as the teacher teaches, he learns and gets taught too via the responsive behaviours of the learners in class.
I want to submit by saying that a student’s right to education through a qualified teacher is also equivalent to a qualified teacher’s right to good welfare.
All hands must be on deck to rid the school, especially private schools, of untrained and unqualified teachers to ensure morally groomed and academically sound youths.
This piece is dedicated to all Nigerian Teachers.
Ojewale writes from Idimu, Lagos via email@example.com