The Teacher and the Child
Before the advent of Islamic and Western Education in Africa, every adult member of the society served as a teacher and initiated the young ones to the culture norms, ethics and beliefs of the society. In actual fact, if a father was a good blacksmith, the son would automatically become one, and if a mother was a good cook, the daughter would become one.
Today, a teacher is a person who has undergone approved professional training in education at a College of Education or Faculty of Education in a University, University of education. The national policy on education (2004) proposat of producing teachers by the National Mathematical Centre has not yet materialise. Gone are the days when Grade II and Grade III
Teachers’ Colleges were in existence. As an innovative approach, we have open education which is synonymous to distance education, correspondence education and the Open University. Graduates of these institutions are capable of imparting knowledge, right attitudes and skills to learners.
The Teacher’s Registration Council handbook (2002) as cited in Molagun and Taiwo (2004) defines teaching as a systematic process of transmitting knowledge, attitudes and skills in accordance with professional principles.
The child is like a young plant which needs proper growth, nurturing, shaping and pruning, while the teacher, is like a gardener who understands the plants, some require bending, some straightening and others pruning. For successful teaching/learning processes, the teacher is required to understand thoroughly the child and the subject matter which must be considered and chosen according to the child’s state and standard.
Since the child is the subject of education, the teacher should be able to guide him successfully to become an achiever in life.
The teacher is trained in both the theory and practice of education. He is very important through his influence, his character and his example. The child is his responsibility. He must be patient and be fond of the child. The teacher needs perseverance, high ideals and a desire to give time, energy, thought and cares to his work. He must have the power of imparting knowledge and should master the knowledge to impart.
The Duties of a Professional Teacher
The duties of a teacher are the assigned responsibilities that a teacher must perform at one time or the other. In teaching and learning processes, they perform numerous roles.
The teacher as a technician should know how to apply various principles of teaching leading to a change in behaviour of the students, i.e. a teacher must know how to motivate or encourage the student to learn.
A teacher must create a conducive atmosphere in the class and have good human relationships with the students and his colleagues. Such cordial relationships will help students to work with little or no supervision by themselves. This also will enhance the students’ right attitudes towards the teaching profession.
The teacher serves as a model, a person to be emulated. Therefore, he must be a good example for others around him. In fact his motto must be “leadership by example”.
The teacher as a dispenser of knowledge must be well enriched, a resource person who can help students acquire the knowledge they seek.
Salami (1999) and Ibrahim (2005) differently took in-depth look at the duties of a teacher, some of which are enumerated below:
– The teacher must be capable of promoting the moral, social and cultural heritage of the community which he serves.
– The teacher must be prepared to learn all the time. He should have the ability to carry out research, he should be computer literate and have knowledge on how to get, information from the internet.
– For the educational objectives to be attained, a teacher must have positive influence on the student and should inspire the students under his care to learn.
– He must be competent and have professional qualification. He must be sensitive to changes in his field and be capable of innovation.
– The teacher must be able to communicate effectively and be able to give a clear, simple and logical lesson.
– He must be capable of meeting emotional, physical, intellectual and social needs of the student. He must help the student to have a good and cordial interpersonal relationships.
– He should be capable of helping students to develop attitudes, morals, and norms that promote the unity and solidarity of the nation.
– The teacher should be able to help the students develop critical thinking and scientific attitudes to life.
– The teacher must be able to cater for the students’ individual differences in learning and wage war against mediocrity.
– A teacher should be able to evaluate his own performance and also the performance of his students.
– Teachers in the early era were respected because they were diligent and morally upright. Teachers were the encyclopedia of the societies to which they belonged. All the events and happenings of their time were recorded by them. To crown it all, they were strong disciplinarians.
Factors Responsible for Teachers’ Poor Image (Low Status)
Having discussed the duties of professional teachers, one will tend to ask the question as to whether majority of our teachers are professional or they take to teaching as a formal occupation for livelihood.
Many factors are responsible for the low status of teachers. Molagun and Taiwo (2004) made an outline of these factors:
• There is a lack of recognition of teachers by the various governments unlike other professions such as medicine and law.
• Several teachers are not professionally trained.
• Some teachers perform very poorly.
• Many use teaching as a stepping stone to other jobs.
• The level of professional training and intensity of professional preparation cannot be compared with what operates in other professions like medicine, law, engineering etc.
• There is lack of self-esteem and dignity of labour on the part of many teachers.
• The effects of teachers’ efforts are not felt immediately like doctors who treat patients and they get healed or lawyers that handle cases a win. To crown it all, poor academic performance of students is on the increase at all levels.
How Children Learn
Having discussed the duties of a teacher at length, it will be interesting for us to know how a child learns.
According to Adeyemo (1985), education should be child-centred and if any good teacher wants to teach a child anything, he must bear in mind that he has a three way traffic before him
• he should know himself
• he should know the subject matter well and above all
• he should know the child he is going to teach.
Children learn more readily when there is something they see, feel, taste, touch and/or smell (i.e.) when teaching appeals to their senses.
Children learn when they can handle concrete objects rather than abstract ideals. This is why it is very important that you make use of teaching aids, illustrations and blackboard summaries while teaching. Children learn more when play is mixes with their learning activities.
Children learn, when you punctuate all oral lessons with short periods of activities. For example children can write notes, draw or even write answers to questions between lessons.
If children pay attention in class, they are alert, they listen, watch, think and ask questions that may agitate their minds, this shows that they are learning.
Of great importance is the fact that repetition aids learning, thus teachers should make it a point of duty to ask students from time to time to know what they have gained so far during the process of teaching.
Factors Affecting Learning
From the discussion on how children learn, you know when a child is actually learning. But now you will be exposed to the factors affecting learning generally.
For children to learn, the teacher must endeavor to link the new body of knowledge to their previous experience. For example in mathematics, the knowledge of addition will aid that of multiplication.
Readiness or the level of preparedness of a child will aid learning. No matter how well you handle a subject matter a child that is not ready or has not mature will not learn; e.g. a six months old child cannot walk.
Children with high interest, motivation, aptitude, intellectual capacity and high level of assimilation will learn but a child with low interest will not learn.
A child or children with physical defects like visual or hearing impairment may be hindered. Also mental retardation can hinder learning. Fatigue of the eye or muscles can hinder learning. Also when anxiety is in excess a learner might not assimilate well.
There are environmental factors that marr a child’s learning e.g. a child from a happy home will readily learn. Also, a homely and conducive school climate will enhance the child’s learning. And if the community where the school is sited is loving and peaceful the child will learn.
On the whole, good teaching prevents disciplinary problems and enhances learning, whereas poor teaching encourages disciplinary problems and discourages learning. A teacher is teaching while the children are learning.
In teaching, the concern of any good teacher is how to make students learn. In the process of teaching and learning, the teacher, the student and the subject matter are involved. Duties of professional teachers are so all encompassing that those who merely earn a living by teaching will find it difficult to cope.