Monthly Archives: December 2014

Learning Together: A Better Way

We live in a world that is largely driven by competition. At the earliest stages of life, children are taught – whether directly or indirectly – that they need to compete. At a time that it is believed in certain quarters that children ought to still be playing, on many fronts they are already being pushed into the field of competition. Parents and guardians push their children for better grades. Comparisons get made. The child learns to run against others.


But perhaps there is a more effective way of learning. This may not be the preferred route of children who are naturally bright and so stand out among others. Because of their extraordinary abilities, A-grade students tend to have no problem studying alone. They are often lone wolves who pick up their books, listen to teachers and lecturers and grasp the subjects by themselves.


But this is not so for the majority of students, and it is important that this is noted. Many students need help, guidance and assistance to figure some things out. Somewhere along the line, some of them figure it out or stumble on the idea that they learn better when they collaborate with others. And so, they begin to pull resources together. They meet to tackle their homework together, They form study groups. They assign individuals who are strong in certain subjects to help explain difficult areas.


As the average person grows up into adulthood, while the world screams, “Compete! Fight!! Compete!!!” lessons learned in practical situation tells us that learning and working together benefits everyone in the long run than if we all go it alone. Collaboration, not competition, is the better route.


Perhaps this is where parents, guardians and teachers should start from. Perhaps before we teach our children to compete, it would be more effective to teach them to collaborate and work as a team.

The Place of Sports and Extra-curricular Activities in Education

During a visiting day session at a boarding school, a student complained to his father, “We do sports and extra-curricular activities only once in a blue moon here. This school is very boring. All we do is read and read.”


It is easy to waive aside the complaint of the boy. It is very easy to miss the import of the situation that he described. Why? Parents send their children to school to study anyway. What is the harm in not having sporting and other extra-curricular activities on a regular basis? As a matter of fact, a lot of damage is being done.


For starters, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a popular saying that applies here. Work and play are so intertwined that institutions that understand the connection make deliberate effort to integrate both in good proportions.


Also, it must be noted that majority of students go on in life to earn a living from personal skills and interests, not from their courses of formal study in school. In other words, the very things that are often classified under extra-curricular activities. People grow up to become dancers, footballers, basketballers, gardeners, and the like.


Education needs to change.


Would it not be much more productive to integrate the so-called extra-curricular activities into proper education syllabus, considering the vital part such activities often eventually play in the lives of students years later in the real world?


Yet, across so many schools around the country, things like computer science, music and the like are provided as add-ons and extras, when in reality they are as much core to everyday living as the main subjects of education.


Yes; education needs to change. However that happens, it is a bad idea to keep pupils and students away from regular, healthy doses of sports, games and other extra-curricular activities.


Appreciating Teachers

Teachers are perhaps the most under-appreciated professionals in our environment. This wasn’t always so. Once upon a time, to be a teacher in Nigeria was a most enviable thing. Teachers were highly respected. Perhaps next to clergy, the teacher was the next in line to God. Parents deferred to teachers. Children lived by the fear of teachers. If a child had a protracted problem with bad behaviour, all the parent had to do to knock him into line was to threaten to report the child to their teacher. Problem solved. As such, to be a teacher was an aspiration for many young people.


You might recall how teachers back in the eighties seemed so in love with their jobs. It was a thing of pride, a calling to which they responded, even though the financial return on the job was not superb. It was something that they did for the love of the results that they got. A teacher would beam with pride whenever an old student of his came back visiting his alma mater. The pride and joy of seeing the fruits of their labours all grown up and doing well can be quite a fulfilling experience for teachers.


Sadly, the times have changed drastically. Teachers no longer hold quite that same enviable position that they used to hold in the society. We find only a few rare people who get into teaching because it is what they really want to do. Now, for the most part, students end up studying education because they couldn’t get admission for the more juicy courses. Many teachers would switch jobs in a heartbeat if the opportunity arises.


Still, teachers play a key role in the society. Our children, tomorrow’s adults, must pass through their care and be molded (for good or for bad) by them. We must pay more attention to equipping our teachers and providing a more efficient work environment for them. Lastly, we must appreciate them for the pivotal role they play in society. Without many of the great teachers that we passed through, not too many of us would be as successful as we are today.


Good teachers are priceless.