How A Friend Escaped Assault And The Dangers Of Half Baked Student Teachers BY SYLVANUS ETENG

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The formation of teachers is a tedious process that many people often take for granted. But, we may all take it seriously if we realize that a poorly trained teacher today means a disaster for even worse trained pupils (who may be your children), tomorrow.

From the basic education to the tertiary levels, teacher training needs to be taken more seriously. Indeed, many people see those who study education-related courses as teachers in training, but there is also that perception that it is reserved for the married, aged, or dull students who could not secure admissions into other degree programs.

Yes, that perception is a dangerous one as it will mean one realizing that she or his future children’s teacher is someone who is a dullard, or is only training as a teacher to have a degree certificate to her or his name.

This scenario came to the fore recently when a friend of mine whom I will simply refer to as, “Sly” escaped an assault from a bitter parent over his actions in the classroom.

Sly is a typical indifferent Nigerian student who does not see the need to stress himself with assignments, attending lectures, and participating in other curricular and extracurricular activities. This is due to the loopholes in the system that he can exploit and still pass on to the next level.

As expected, he was sent to a public school for his teaching practice – an extracurricular activity that gives education students, or rather, teachers in training, the ability to witness firsthand, the workings of a classroom.

Sly resumed and impressed the Vice-Principal Academic with his suave approach and grammar. But, all that will change when the senior administrator will ask him to teach ‘basic technology’ since he was studying educational technology in a public university in South-South Nigeria.

Sly will get confused because he knew next to nothing about what the subject was about. His first-class was just hours away. He went into an almost empty staff room, sat down, and was tapping his legs. He brought out his phone and called a colleague to explain his predicament – unfortunately, the colleague was carrying out his duties in another school as a student-teacher.

But, Sly will pull a fast one on the school as the subject time was approaching. He left the school without informing his superiors and proceeded to discuss with his colleague whom he had called.

Two days later, when he returned to school, he quickly ran to the Vice-Principal Academic immediately after the morning devotion and assembly. After exchanging pleasantries, the administrator asked him what had happened. Sly opened up and requested that Physical Education should be assigned to him instead of Basic Technology.

Despite the initial hesitation and concern from the Vice Principal who told Sly that the school had instructional materials to teach Basic technology, he later assigned him to teach Physical Education. However, that did not happen before he quizzed Sly on whether Physical Education was under  Education Technology.

If you thought that was the end, you are wrong. Three days later, Sly gave the students a continuous assessment test, or assignment as you may call it. It was to be submitted the next day. Unfortunately, only 8 out of 43 students, which represents less than 20 percent submitted. He got into a fit of rage and flogged the children 12 strokes each, including one who failed to do the assignment due to ill health.

The ill student ran home to inform his father, who left immediately to the school to assault Sly. From the entrance up until the staff room door, the boy’s father shoved through a sea of teachers who tried to calm him down. Upon gaining entry into the office where Sly sat, he was shocked to see the Student-Teacher who beat up his son – a younger friend who had shared a meal with him in his home. His anger disappeared as he proceeded to hug Sly.

While that got his son angry, the lovely moment of two men hugging was broken quickly by the appearance of another parent at the school’s entrance over the same issue. Sly took a bush track and escaped from the school premises as his luck may run out with the other parent.

That is how Sly escaped assault for beating up children under his care. The Principal will later convene a general meeting of staff to address the issue, which never occurred again.

How does this connect to the issue of half-baked teachers? It is simple, a trained teacher knows the fact that not everyone in her or his classroom learns at the same pace. That will translate into their performance in assignments, tests, and examinations.

Some students may be shy in class but have a super retentive and photographic memory. Others could talk loudly but have a poor reading attitude which affects their grade. The ability to understand this and carry out an analysis to discover why less than twenty percent of his class carried out the continuous assessment, would have portrayed Sly as a trained teacher. But, he returned to his basic raw instinct, violence. A trained teacher is aware of the Child Rights Act of the country, which abolished corporal punishment in schools.

Furthermore, Sly’s background attitude towards his training as a teacher as shared earlier definitely impacted his cognitive and psychosocial abilities as a teacher.

Though, the lack of infrastructure and other instructional materials may impact the teacher’s ability to learn in her or his student days, the habit of attending classes and striving to do better tells in the character.

A student who habitually attends classes late will translate into a teacher who habitually arrives late in classes. This is the same in the frequency of attending classes, reading attitude, memory retention, and ability to adapt to the needs of colleagues and unique teachers and students. Indeed, a grape tree cannot produce mangoes.

So, for privileged children and teachers in training like Sly, there is a need to sit up. But, there is even more need for parents to communicate more with their children to ensure that they are not being taught only by teachers like Sly.

Formal education and the current school system are not for only learning the theoretical and practicals already laid down in the syllabus. It is for developing lifelong survival and management skills and habits, hence the need to curb people like Sly in the system.

Sylvanus Eteng is an IT student from the University of Calabar with CrossRiverWatch.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Sylvanus Eteng, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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