Monthly Archives: July 2014

A FAMILY TRIP THIS HOLIDAY IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA

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It is easy to wave off holidays as times to give children a break from learning. However, this can be a grave mistake. While children should be given a break from formal learning and schooling, there are many fun ways of ensuring that they do learn even during long holidays.

A field trip is an excellent idea of a fun way to teach your children and /or wards in a hands-on way during holidays. By definition, a field trip is a trip made by students to learn about something

A field trip can be to places like nature spots e.g. water springs, water falls, rocks and nature trails, zoos, schools, museums, etc. It is fun, exciting, and yet educational. Here are some benefits of a field trip:

  • children have fun traveling and experiencing new places and things
  • children learn in a hands-on manner different from what obtains in a school environment
  • children get more exposure to the variety of peoples and customs that exist in the world
  • children get to know their country better

Holidays – especially to affluent Nigerians – often mean one or more trips to choice cities in Europe, North America, Middle East or the Asia – New York, Paris, London, Atlanta, Singapore, or Dubai. However, Nigeria is a large country, with lots of beautiful locations that all provide learning experiences. Those experiences include: historical, cultural, religious and scientific. Here are a few such places:

  • Olumo Rock, Abeokuta
  • Ikogosi Water Falls, Ikogosi-Ekiti
  • Arinta Water Fall, Iponle Ekiti
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
  • University Of Ibadan Zoological Garden (and the campus too)
  • Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar
  • Kainji Dam and Lake Kainji, Niger State
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

These are just a handful of places to visit. Each of them have a rich history that involves stories based on culture and/or science. Your children will see and hear things for themselves that will reinforce the theoretical classes they have had in school. A lot of things will be clearer to them. And they will have great fun while at it. You should give it a try these holidays.

Don’t forget to pick up one or more of First Veritas books with homegrown content that helps your children learn from the point of view of our local environment.

LEARNING SHOULD BE FUN

As adults, we may have been conditioned to believe that education and a serious face are inseparable. After all, learning how to get serious is a key part of growing up; right? Or so we are told. Yet, it has been proven again and again that the more fun even adults have at something, the easier they are likely to find doing it and the better they are likely to become at it. If that applies to adults, perhaps we need to review how we teach children and young adults.

Learning can be fun. Learning should be fun. We need a paradigm change. That someone is having fun at something shouldn’t mean that they are not learning or that they are unserious about their studies or work. Many people went through school without any inkling that learning does not have to be drudgery and uninteresting. For most, schooling was painful and something that they couldn’t wait to get away from. But if we make learning fun, there is no reason why anyone should want to run away from it.

  • The teacher ought to have fun teaching. How effective can a teacher, trainer or instructor be if they do not enjoy what they do? Do we really want to entrust the training of our children to people who do not enjoy teaching them?
  • The pupils and students ought to have fun learning. When they find their studies and classrooms fun, we will hardly ever have to chase them around and be able to spend our energies to more productive tasks and experiences. They will read and learn of their own accord more than ever.
  • At every tier of the educational system should be an air of fun. From the policy makers to administrators, the idea of learning being fun should be imprinted from the very start or else it won’t work.

Usually, we reserve learning as fun (or is it fun as learning now) for nursery and pre-school children. We expect that after that, learning should be sober and serious. While there is some sense in which that is true, what happens usually is that we squeeze out all the fun from that point on. A grave mistake. Make leaning fun and watch as more knowledge goes round.

COMPREHENSION- DICTATES PASS OR FAIL

New PictureComprehension is the ability to understand and interprete what is being read. It is an important skill in the educational process. Why do we say so? Many of the challenges and problems that students are required to solve in life require a good deal of comprehension. If a child is unable to understand a question, how will he or she provide an accurate answer?

Problem solving often requires:

  • understanding the question or what has been stated is the problem
  • being able to connect the question or problem with other knowledge already acquired
  • being able to critically work out the solution

Have you ever made a statement or asked a question, and someone provides a response that does not fit in? In all probability, that individual did not understand the question. There was a problem comprehending your question or statement.

Failure does not always arise from a lack of knowledge or skill in the specific subject, but from poor comprehension skills. Some students fail physics not because they do not understand physics, but because they lack comprehension skills. Same goes for other subjects. Years later, as adults, they will require this same comprehension in whatever field they may embrace as a vocation.

This is why we must not only teach English as a language, but also promote a reading culture. Note that by reading culture, we include the use of dictionaries and other reference material.

Here are a few pointers:

  • we must make our children read and ask questions for the purpose of developing comprehension skills
  • materials to read: good story books and novels (both fiction and non-fiction); newspapers (though some of these have fallen behind in recent times); and magazines
  • a good dictionary should be available to children
  • if internet access is available and the child’s use can be monitored, a Google search for unknown words and phrases yields useful results

Growing up in the seventies and eighties, children had fewer distractions to reading. Today, the distractions are legion, yet we must polish the minds of our young ones by exposing them to well written books and periodicals.

5 BENEFITS OF READING FICTION

bedtimestories_1356045cFictional works may contain made up characters and experiences, but that does not mean that they serve purely entertainment purposes. Whether for adults or children, reading fictional stories is beneficial in a number of ways. Today, we share with you some of the benefits of reading fiction. Grab some popcorn and a bottle of Coke please 🙂

Entertainment

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of fiction. People read fiction for the entertainment, the thrill and the pleasure they derive from the story lines.

Relaxation

This may sound closely related to entertainment, but it is not quite the same. Reading a novel or story book helps the mind and body to relax. Those who appreciate the rhythm of language often find reading a book a very calming and relaxing experience.

Of all the activities available to children in particular, book reading is perhaps the most calming. It is no wonder that bedtimes are perfect times to read a story to a child. As an adult, you should give it a try too. You just might be surprised.

Development of vocabulary

If you want to add new words to your vocabulary so you can better express yourself, reading fictional works is a good way to go about it. They expose you to experiences outside of your everyday reality, thereby introducing new words that you would otherwise not have come across.

Stimulates imagination

A fictional work can take you vividly through an evening on the streets of Paris, or on a detailed trip around the Caribbean. While you may never have been to these places, a good novel or story book paints a clear picture in your mind by stimulating your imagination. An active imagination can be a great asset to you in learning, as well as in problem solving.

Now, you have a few reasons to pick up a book to read today, and to encourage your children to read too. Act on it. 1st Veritas has a number of good fictional works that your children and pupils will find engaging. You should check those out too.

Do be sure to have a nice day!

A LESSON FROM FATHER TO DAUGHTER

A man had one of those discussions with his pre-teen daughter. He kicked things off by asking her if she was involved in any extra-curricular activities in school. She replied that she was and went on to explain that she was interested in the sprints and jumps. The jumps include high jump, long jump, and triple jump. Apparently, she had discovered that she had strong legs and was good at those activities. However, she further went on to say to her father that she stopped participating because some senior year students were always making fun of participants. The mocking wasn’t a personal thing against her, but it affected her badly enough to make her withdraw.

The father saw an opportunity to teach his little girl one of life’s important lessons. So, he dived into his own history and narrated to her how at different stages of his own life, he had been ridiculed and discouraged by others. He told her how he had chosen not to give up at each of those times.

“In life, there will always be people who will make fun of you and ridicule whatever you do,”she told her as they walked down the quiet street. “You have to make up your mind that you will not let others discourage you from achieving your goals.” The father went on to point out why people often resort to mocking and ridiculing of others:

  • sometimes, they are just plain jealous that you are better at a task than they are
  • sometimes, they have personal issues that makes them feel better about their own lives when they mock others

He went on to say to her: “What people say in mockery is no reflection of who you are or what you can achieve. It is a reflection of who they are and their values. If you want to do something and achieve greatness at it, you have to learn to ignore those who mock you”

Pick up that new book and read. Learn that new language. Polish your diction and refine your poise. Learn that new skill and go excel. Keep learning and keep achieving, regardless of how hard anyone tries to discourage you.

TALENT VERSUS ORGANIZATION

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The semi-finals match between Germany and Brazil at the FIFA World Cup 2014 was a huge upset and a record breaker. No-one could have predicted it would go so bad for either of the two teams playing. Neither was an underdog at any level of football. Yet, when the match was over and the dust had cleared, Germany had carried the day with a 7-1 win over Brazil. Scandalous is a good way to describe it.

Someone has described it as a victory of organisation over talent. That is a good summary, and there are lessons to be gleaned if we break it down.

  • The Brazilian team was choke full of talented players
  • The Brazilian team was full of passionate players (did you see how they sang their national anthem lustfully?)
  • But the Germans were the better organised team
  • The Germans were the more disciplined team

It has been proven that important as talent and passion may be, discipline and organisation play a much more important role in self development and hence in succeeding than mere talent and passion do. In other words, the more disciplined and organised person stands a better chance of learning, developing new skills, getting better at a task, passing exams and succeeding in life.

Sure, if we have a talented, passionate person who also embraces discipline and is well organised, we would have someone who would be unbeatable. Michael Jackson sits at the top of the popular music world because in addition to his natural talent and passion, he imbibed discipline early in life and never walked away from it till death.

  • Draw up a study time table.
  • Draw up a reading list
  • Schedule your tutorial classes
  • Schedule your eating, rest and sleep periods
  • Schedule practice periods

Talent or not, you can excel. Talent or not, you must embrace a life of discipline. You must get organised. By so doing, you exponentially increase your chances of success.

WHY SLEEP IS IMPORTANT TO LEARNING

sleep

It is great to have a desire to learn, and to dive into it whole-heartedly. It is good that we keep engaging our children, wards and students in better ways and with better tools for learning. Here are a few facts about the relationship between sleep and learning:

  • sleep is important to the growth and proper development of not just the body but the mind
  • sleep affects our co-ordination, and sleep-deprived people tend to be clumsier
  • sleep affects our ability to concentrate
  • sleep affects our ability to remember details

In summary, sleep is essential to the proper growth and development of the body as a whole – including the mind and our nervous system. This makes it an important factor in learning.

Depending on age, different people have different minimum sleep requirements necessary for healthy development and optimum performance.

  • Children between the ages of 5 and 11 need 10-11 hours of sleep a night
  • Children between the ages of 11 and 18 need 8.5-10 hours of sleep a night
  • Adults of 18 and above need at least 8 hours of sleep every night

The above age ranges and figures are not hard-coded but recommendations. We live in an age in which getting the minimum recommended amount of sleep gets to be underrated as something that is for weaklings and lazy people. Yet, it has been proven that the quality and quantity of sleep that we get are directly related to our mental sharpness, which directly impacts our ability to absorb and process information, as well as develop new skills.

Sleep matters.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT ON YOUR OWN RECENTLY?

Educational institutions and teachers are important and play a vital role in learning in every society. Yet, it has been proven that personal interest plays a very strong role in the learning process that life is. And if there is anything that personal interest does, it is that it motivates us to find out things on our own. It drives us into curiosity. It causes us to pursue knowledge.

It has been said that pursuit is the proof of desire. In other words, if something really interests you and you really want it, you will go after it.

Before this age, if you needed to learn by yourself, you had to visit a library every day, looking through the available book titles to sift which one has what you needed, then sit down for long hours day after day gleaning as much as you can from the titles you eventually selected. Sometimes, you had to repeat the process again and again till you found what you wanted. Today, technology has made it easier to learn by yourself.

Here are a few pointers:

  • using Google or other search engines, you can find out quick and dirty articles to break down any subject to you at whatever level of understanding you are – beginner, moderate or expert levels.
  • You can enrol online for a variety of online courses that allow you to learn from anywhere you are and at your own pace and in your own time.
  • Again, with the use of any search engine, you can find book titles that fit your learning needs in a matter of hours and you can order them right there online and have them delivered to you where you are

Learning has gotten a lot easier than it used to be. Now, even in situations where you have the benefit of a teacher, you can easily augment what you are learning from your instructor and become a much better equipped person.

So, here is the question: What have you learnt on your own recently?

NIGERIA NEEDS A MUCH STRONGER EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

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Being custodians of our children’s education, teachers play a very vital role in the society. From the creche all the way up to higher institutions, teachers are at the core of the education of our children. This is why the subject of training , evaluation and re-training should be taken as a serious one.

It will not do to have teachers whose spoken and written English are below standard. That would be very counter-productive, as students will end up learning the wrong things. That is why the training of teachers should be a priority, and not an after-thought.

It does not help either that many people who end up studying education at the higher institution level do so as a last resort. Unable to secure admission for the courses that they are really interested in, they settle for Education because of lower cut-off marks and easier entry requirements. Perhaps something is wrong with such a system? We end up with teachers who are not particularly wanting to teach in the first place, but are teachers by reason of circumstances.

That is bad enough already. Consider also that many of them are unable to put a flawless sentence together in English, and the issues quickly get compounded. We also live in a world where things change fast. As such, the need for evaluations and re-training as often as possible. The idea is to spot individuals who need to be chucked out f the system, as well as individuals who can get better with some more training.

If anything, Nigeria needs a much stronger educational system, and not one in which any and every one can walk in to teach. Things are already bad as they are. Implementing strong evaluation and re-training processes into the system can only be a good thing. Otherwise, we can say goodbye to any hopes of things getting better. Without sound teachers, there can be no such hope.

ARE THERE ANY UNINTELLIGENT PEOPLE ?

images (1)Traditionally, intelligence has been associated with certain fields and disciplines – science, technology, law, accounting, finance, and the like. Many people grew up with the impression that they were not intelligent unless they excelled at certain subjects. Children who clearly possessed skills outside of those special fields were not considered particularly intelligent.

We probably all had that one classmate whose grades were consistently poor but who would effortlessly memorise the lyrics of every new song and mater the dance steps within a couple of days. Sadly, our educational systems didn’t consider such types intelligent. Perhaps even worse is the fact that today, that sentiment still survives and thrives.

An affinity for music, acting or even football is a different kind of intelligence different from what obtains with architecture, engineering or literature. Football, for example, is a highly skilled game that requires a great deal of mental juggling. The amount of mental and nervous co-ordination that is involved in intercepting a ball and dribbling through an opposing team is one that many scientists and business geniuses are unable to pull off. So, the question is, are footballers any less intelligent than scientists?

The truth is that there are really no unintelligent people. There are just people who are gifted differently. Once we acknowledge and accept this, the next step is to see how to modify our educational system to this reality. Right now, the way the system stands and the way students are graded, certain kinds of gifted people have little or no chance of ending up with good grades. The system just doesn’t reckon with their skills.

As someone has said, if a fish and a dog are both given a swimming test, the fish will win for the simple reason that the test fits its skills and abilities well. We need to start recognising people for their specific and unique skills set. Everyone is intelligent in some way and each person needs to be judged and evaluated on their merits.