It has become common of late to hear people complain of fallen standard of education in our country. Their worries, no doubt, may not have been unconnected with the poor yearly output of our tertiary institutions of learning
Surprisingly, these tertiary institutions; citadels of knowledge as they were hitherto called, had been the sole platform through which the nobility of our founding fathers were cooked, baked and sampled for societal good.
Then it was very difficult to fault any product of these noble institutions because, like gold, every product of the university or any equivalent institution of learning, was believed to have passed through fire, having satisfied every requirement to be adjudged noble.
This I believe accounted for the euphoria that accompanied every graduation of students from any educational institution to the world, haven also been certified worthy in learning and in character by the institution.
Like the proverbial proof of the pudding that lies in the eating, every contact and encounter with any output (graduate) of these institutions of learning attested to the fact that the role of education and the teacher with regards to imprinting in the child a number of social and intellectual states required by society for stability and progress, was achieved.
Surprisingly, also, these same citadels of knowledge that were wont to producing brains that not only shaped and formed characters after their kind, but pioneered and engineered technological structures that have kept the country’s economy on its toes, are now being derided.
Without reference to the feelings of those in the diaspora, Nigerians at home now parade the impression that the best brains are made beyond the shores of the country. This is explained by the exodus of our children to universities outside Nigeria.
Their argument ranges from the need for timely completion of studies, uninterrupted academic session, to acquisition of the right academic values. All these they complain, are lacking in today’s Nigeria’s academic setting. They thus blame their educational woes on Nigerian universities
But without any form of prejudice, I wonder if Nigerians are really fair enough in their judgement, as I find it difficult to establish that a child who is well groomed at the foundational stage, could deviate without reservation at the tertiary level.
For me, blaming the universities for the fallen educational values in Nigeria is like knocking the head for the sin of the anus, even though the universities do have their own portion of blame.
Going through various informed thoughts on child education and development, one would surely encounter the views of a renowned French Social Scientist, Emile Durkheim. Emile Durkheim believes that a child is born into the world as a tabula- rasa which means blank- mind as it were, onto which society would have to engrave its values, norms and culture.
For Durkheim, the role of education and the teacher is to imprint in the child, a number of social and intellectual states required by society for stability and progress. Hence, the child would have to remain docile and simply serve as a receptacle to planned curricular.
Amidst various theories and approaches to teaching and learning, what is paramount is the fact that it is the much that the teacher is endowed with that he impacts to the child who naturally wears a posture of naivety.
No doubt, the educational foundation of a child to a greater measure spells out how stable or feeble he turns out eventually and this makes it expedient that we define who teaches the child.
The definition of the child’s teacher is imperative given the fact that while not all teachers would adopt Durkheim’s view on child education, many also do not see reason to apply the pedagogical methodology and instructional processes advocated by other theorists. They are neither here nor there.
Therefore, if it be said that a poor teacher tells, an average teacher informs, a good teacher teaches, while a noble teacher inspires then there is indeed a need to inundate our schools with noble teachers.
Professionally trained teachers who would make children internalise learning experiences by operating within the three domains of educational objectives (the cognitive, affective and psychomotor) as expounded by the American Educational Psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, is all that is needed at this moment.
Nevertheless, while we search for the teacher that we need, it is important we shop for the teacher who is abreast with the educational challenges of the 21st century which brings a lot of pedagogical burden to bear on the teacher.
Most importantly, in this era of progressive advancement in science and technology, with greater negative influences on the attitude and behaviour of children towards education, the teacher must be such that goes for more training and development in pedagogy to enable him respond positively to the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the teaching/learning process to meet curricular innovations.
This is really expedient if meeting Nigeria’s education need is a task that must be done?
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi.