Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to Find a Mentor

  1. Know what you want. Before you begin scouting for a mentor, you need to know what you want in life. Just as you need to have a destination in mind before you begin looking for a map, that is the same way you need to have clear goals and objectives of the direction you want your life to go before looking for someone to guide you.
  2. Decide the areas in which you need mentoring. You may have more and urgent needs in some areas than in others. For instance, although you want to be a good parent, you may decide that you do not require mentoring in that area and focus on professional competence instead. Similarly, you may decide you want a mentor in both areas. The point is that you have to decide.
  3. Have an image of what your mentor should be like. You have your aims and your ideals. These will help you picture how you want to be in the nearest future and also what to expect from your would-be mentor. This is very important.
  4. List the places where your mentors are likely to be. This will narrow your search. If you are looking for mentors in your career, you may look within your organization or in similar organizations. If you are into publishing, you may look for people in your publishing company or in other top houses. If you are a student, you may look inside your school or in other schools, or even in your neighborhood.
  5. Be teachable. Cultivate a learning spirit. To get a good mentor, you need to be humble. A haughty or know-it-all attitude will discourage anyone from accepting to mentor you.
  6. Be proactive. Learn all there is to learn about your prospective mentor and his/her interests. This will give you both a common ground to interact as well as show the mentor that you are smart, serious and willing to learn.
  7. Don’t make it sound like work. While approaching a prospective mentor, don’t make their work look like a burden – like they have to babysit and spoon feed you! Make it light and fun and you can be sure that they will accept.
  8. Be polite. Don’t approach a would-be mentor with an attitude of entitlement. You are asking for a favor and it will cost them time, energy and effort, maybe even money. Learn to appreciate that and act accordingly.

Additional tips? Do leave us comments.

Mentorship

Do you have a mentor or are you a mentor? Oftentimes, a mentor is confused with a role model or a parent figure. Let’s look at the definitions of mentors. A mentor can be defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. It can also be defined as a senior sponsor or supporter. A mentor is a more experienced, usually older person, who offers you guidance and advice from time to time in the area in which you choose. A lot of times, mentorship is restricted to career and professional development alone. Truth is, a mentor can be in any area one wants guidance. It may be in personal development, professional development, marital development, child care, health care, you name it! What is important is to determine the area(s) in which mentorship is needed. One may even choose to have more than one mentor because different people are brilliant in different aspects. Moreover, having more than one mentor gives more variety in options, like being at a buffet where you can have a little of everything. Got it? Good!

Who needs a mentor? That’s a good question to ask. Many people think mentors are only for professional people or those wanting to grow their career. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mentors serve as a guides or compasses in our journey in particular areas of our lives. So whether you are in school, a teacher, a publisher, a book supplier, a student, a chorister etc, you can choose to have a mentor or more.

A mentor is more than someone you look up to or admire from afar. A mentor is someone you have a tangible relationship with. A mentor is an adviser, guide, master and preceptor. A mentor is someone who is willing to share his or her knowledge and experience to help you succeed in life.  When time and effort is expended to develop strong mentorship relationships, the rewards are bountiful. There is access to a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience that would otherwise not have been exposed to. Not only that, it may be an opportunity to have a faithful friend and confidante or even a business partner. The privileges abound.

How does one choose a mentor? We will discuss this in our next post.

Write Right

Ever heard of doctors’ special handwriting? You know, the one you cannot read except you take the prescription to the pharmacy, and even then, the Pharmacist has to secure the services of a graphologist?  Well, it’s been discovered that it’s a myth.

The doctors whose writing you can’t read are doctors who don’t have good handwriting. Simple! Unfortunately, doctors’ illegible handwriting has been said to cause a lot of deaths. This is because many patients end up buying the wrong drugs as the pharmacists sometimes pretend to understand so as not to look incompetent.

Likewise, a lot of students fail tests or examinations because of bad handwriting. Especially in education in Nigeria where most quizzes/tests/exams are handwritten, the importance of this cannot be overstated. When a student’s writing is so illegible that the examiner cannot read it, the paper cannot be properly graded. Have you been in a class where the teacher calls a student with a good writing to always write the notes on the board? Well, nobody wants to stare at bad handwriting all day long anyway.

Handwriting is a basic tool used in our everyday activities like taking notes, writing diaries, etc. Even with the computer age, we still need to write things down every now and then. While some people in different works of life can somehow wing the need to be bothered with handwriting, for students in Nigeria, it is non-negotiable. Handwriting is needed for writing notes, homework, tests and examinations.

We have some good news though. No hope is lost for the “illegible handwriter”. Handwriting can be improved upon at any stage in life if one is determined enough. A lot of patience and practice is required. Getting helpful materials and resources will go a long way.  First Veritas for instance, has handwriting practice books at 2 levels. There is even one for Cursive Handwriting.First Veritas  Cursive Handwriting

Cop your copy today.

On the 39 New Subjects in the WAEC Curriculum

The introduction of thirty-nine new subjects to WAEC in accordance with the curriculum has been raising quite some dust. First, this is a laudable move as it introduces a lot of necessary variety into education. It shows that NERDC (the body responsible for curriculum development) is in touch with reality and recognizes that the old format of education cannot work in this new age.

Also, this development is a step in the right direction because it removes the constraint on students. Instead of the past education system in which students fell into either Sciences or Arts classes, this recent system gives students options of Sciences, Arts, Technology and Business studies, depending on their potential and interest.

However, there are challenges that come with this juicy arrangement. Are there sufficient teachers trained to teach all these subjects in all schools across the federation? Is there a plan to employ more teachers to take these subjects in government schools? What about private schools? Are they also going to employ more teachers or bombard the existing teachers with more work load in unfamiliar areas? Is there a plan to train teachers in order to be able to cope with these new roles?

What about publishers? How are they supposed to meet the book needs this new development has created? Are there enough qualified authors to write these books? Are there enough intellect, manpower and resources to produce textbooks for thirty-nine subjects more? Is there loan available to publishers to enable them produce sufficient books for these subjects?

While we are at it, one may also want to ask why Computer Studies is an elective subject in this computer age. What are you reactions to this?

1800 Methods for 21st Century Students; How Effective?

Whoever said you cannot continue doing things the same way and expect changes was right. Some teachers are exasperated and puzzled as to why they cannot get through to their students. The students can’t seem to understand anything the teachers teach. Why is this so?

The answer isn’t far-fetched. It’s because a lot of teachers are teaching the way they were taught!

What does this mean? It is an obvious observation that there is a generational disconnect in communication in most classes. Some teachers still use the same old notes they have been using since they started their teaching careers twenty-five years ago, and then complain of lack of comprehension by the students. While students are miles ahead in learning through technology, a lot of teachers are still stuck in the past and yet they wonder why class is boring.

Need we then say that a teacher who can speak the language of her students will be the one the students will respond to? If your students love to watch television, would it not be a win-win to give them an assignment based on a regularly viewed and loved soap opera or musical, within the scope of education?

If students love to browse the internet, then a good way to get them interested in your teaching is to give them an assignment where they have to research on the internet.

But then, you can only teach what you can relate with. Many teachers are not even computer literate, so, they have a hard time understanding what the students find so interesting. Another saying sure comes in handy here: “If you want to catch a monkey, behave like one!” The first step to take is for teachers to be computer literate. The next step? There are lots of resources to take advantage of. First Veritas for instance, has several education technology solutions designed for easy use for teachers and students alike.

Valentine “Reds” – Education Style

Time indeed changes yesterday. Who would have thought the day would come when Valentine’s Day would be a day to be celebrated publicly in schools?   Pupils in some nursery and primary schools are now told to wear red clothing and bring gifts to school to be exchanged. Teachers even wear a touch of red on the day.

Rewind to 15-20 ago, students did not want their parents to know that they knew that Valentine’s Day existed, not to talk of knowing what it stood for. And parents too wished their wards knew not what valentine was all about.  Everyone was glad to look the other way.

Now, some people believe that Valentine’s Day celebration should not be encouraged in schools.  One reason given is that not every parent believes in Valentine’s Day, so telling their children to bring gifts and wear red clothing is asking them to act against their wish and put them under unnecessary pressure, since kids who don’t comply will be the odd ones out.

These people also feel that celebrating Valentine’s Day constitutes a distraction from education. They hold the view that the precious time wasted on celebrating this day should be used on valuable school work and students should focus on reading their books instead of wearing red and exchanging gifts.

Another reason given against celebrating Valentine’s Day is that it may encourage amorous activities in children, especially adolescents. To the children, the fact that parents and the school authorities approve it may mean that they have liberty to practice amorous acts (especially as projected by mainstream media). And if care is not taken, this may result in unwanted pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases.

However, some other people believe there is nothing to it. In fact, the fact that the day is celebrated openly removes the secrecy and will enable parents and teachers monitor the wards properly.

Also, from our end, perhaps today is an auspicious day for parent-child sex education talk. Engage your children in that decision, let them ask questions and answer them to the best of your knowledge.

Happy Valentine.

 

What Age is Right for Cell Phone Usage?

 ‘Where are you?’

‘I’m in class.’

‘What are you doing?’

‘Waiting for this drag to finish blabbering.’

‘What’s he teaching?’

‘Introductory Technology. Imagine! Of all boring subjects.’

‘Hmmm… I feel for you. What a torture!’

‘Yeah, I don’t know why I have to sit through this. Will you be at our joint in the evening?’

‘You bet!’

‘I trust you. See you then.’

If you thought that was part of a script for a home video, you thought wrong. It was a chat thread which occurred during a class. While the poor teacher was busy sweating it, providing education, one of his students (more, perhaps) was busy chatting away. Let’s not mention that this was one of the ‘decent’ chat threads. Others were simply unprintable. In fact, students have been said to watch pornography during classes. And watching their excitement, the teacher would think she’s doing a great job. Poor soul!

One is aware of the different benefits of giving cell phones to students but do the benefits outweigh the distractions and other disadvantages? Yes, the phone is an innovation which serves as a means of keeping in touch with one’s child and it also serves as a form of security. It could also be used for quick research to aid comprehension in class. Of course, this makes it a source of empowerment for the student. However, the disadvantages, if not properly supervised and balanced, are numerous. Is there a way to create a balance? Who should be involved in creating such a balance? And then the bigger question: At what age should a child be given a cell phone?