Teachers And The Society
ON Monday, October 5, Nigeria joined its peers all over the world to roll out the drums to celebrate teachers, who to all intents and purpose, constitute the engine room through which society overcome ignorance and disease, conquer poverty and the environment as well as overcome tribalism and extremism among others. There can be no better time to x-ray the place and import of teachers in the society than now.
The questions then arise as to who is a teacher and who is a teacher properly so called? There are so many definitions/descriptions of a teacher: For example, a parent is a teacher to his children because he inculcates the virtues of morality, discipline, industry, humility and respect for constituted authorities in them. Equally, coaches in different vocations teach their apprentices the nitty-gritty of their trade. This is the same way the clergyman teaches his congregation.
But then, there are good, average and bad teachers. It is not however everybody that holds a University degree that is ipso facto a good teacher. In the colonial days, teachers were categorized as CD, C, CA and A. Colleges were established for the training of teachers. Nevertheless it may still be said that the first factor in the making of a good teacher is a requisite qualification. This is why there are several academic programs designed towards the production of teachers. Many Universities in Nigeria today offer degree programs in Education while some are out-rightly designated as Universities of Education.
However, the making of a teacher does not and cannot end at mere acquisition of academic degrees: constant training and retraining of teachers must of necessity follow. Teachers must constantly acquaint themselves with modern teaching methods so that they don’t disseminate ignorance and half knowledge to their students, thereby producing a bunch of unemployable graduates. A teacher, after all can only teach what he knows and in a manner in which he knows how best to.
A teacher properly so called is that person trained in the art of teaching, especially in the art of imparting knowledge in students in different schools starting from primary to tertiary institutions. Among those who teach in formal schools today are two categories: those who are gifted, who find teaching interesting and therefore love it and radiate it and those who fortuitously find themselves in teaching because they could not find any other form of employment.
Teachers properly so called must have quality education, must be masters of the Subject Matter, must be interested in the art of teaching, not seeing it as means of making ends meet and must also be able to arouse the interest of their students. Other qualities of teachers properly so called are that they must be able to keep students awake during the duration of their class, keep a Register for attendance, prepare their lesson notes in advance and give advance notice of the Subject Matter to enable their students prepare ahead and do some research.
They must also be timeous in class, must be firm, fair, frank and friendly, must be able to use modern teaching equipment, including the Interactive Boards and all forms of ICT platforms, must be audible, confident, affectionate and approachable and above all, they must be disciplined.
As was the practice in those days, they must be well-dressed and clean, keep records of what they do, be original and innovative, be cooperative and collaborative and move with trends as well as give assignments to their students
It is all these parameters put together that qualify teachers to be described as teachers properly so called and above all, it is only by being teachers so properly called that they will be able to stand in their position to change the face of education in Nigeria, entrench quality and functional education and restore the lost glory of education in Nigeria.
For this to happen, however, the Federal Government must make deliberate efforts to comply with UNESCO’s recommendation of devoting 26 per cent of the country’s yearly budget allocation to education and put teaching under essential services like the Army, Police, Fire Service and Water Corporation and make it a punishable offence for them to go on strike. After all, whenever children are in school, their teachers automatically become in loco parentis. And standing in the position of parents for these children should ordinarily deactivate them from going on strike because no reasonable father/mother goes on strike against his/her own children the same way the shepherd, the clergy, does not abandon his sheep (church) for pecuniary reasons.
• Olofintila wrote from Lagos.