OUR DIFFERENCES

We are uniquely made, uniquely different in our needs. Some prefer the hot weather, while some rejoice in the cold. Our needs can never be the same, what matters is our ability to understand and tolerate the differences in our needs. A child’s need is quite different from that of an adult. Even amongst his peers, his needs seem varied. He may sometimes be seen as an isolate, often neglected amongst his group, he is shown the picture of not been wanted, he belongs where he does not, yet, he never chose his condition, for he is wonderfully made.

Many a times, our expectations about what a child should be able to perform makes it intolerable when he is unable to meet up to our expectations. The society expects more than what the child can offer. Tasks and expectations are usually age ranked. When a child is unable to meet up to the social demands, such child is often seen as been irrelevant, inadequate or one who is not fit for any competitive tasks. Usually, this operates in our homes, schools, workplace and even around us.

It is no news that twins share similar traits and attributes, but usually there exist a slight or noticeable variation. This makes it possible for identification. While one might be highly intellectual, the other might be intellectually retarded, one might be outspoken, the other an introvert, these situations exists. It does not mean, these individuals who possess limited or inadequate skill are not fit, it only entail that they are uniquely made.

Often times, parents and teachers are confronted with these unique being. Individuals enrolled for knowledge acquisition, a raw material brought into the industry for processing. The school in this case serves as the processing industry, with the teacher playing the role of an industrial worker. The aim of any business is usually to maximize profit. However, the school’s structure does not necessarily give room to identification of unique features amongst students, they are usually presented with placement tests, once successful, these individuals are enrolled into the school system. What happens if they are not? They are rejected, often to be neglected, they are presented with an outcast imagery.

The teacher usually is saddled with the task of completing a set of content over a period of time. He visits the classroom only to discover the child’s inability to cope with his peers.  The teacher’s opinion in these situation often times do not count, he is seen as a school’s staff, one saddled with the responsibility of content delivery. In instances where the teacher’s opinion count, how often are his presentations/ ideas utilized in the teaching and learning situation. Usually, he is seen as a toothless bulldog.

However, if a teacher should exist in such environment, he should rather see that as a great challenge on his part. The real question of his teaching should be answered. Is he on the job for the money or for qualitative life improvement? If he can answer this question accurately, the barrier in his workplace is gradually eliminated. A teacher’s happiness is in his products, his impacts on the child’s overall development and growth. He is never discouraged based on the society’s perceptions of his profession. His driving force resides on the smiling faces of his products.

He goes into the classroom, bearing in mind the variations existing amongst his students. He tries all his possible best to ensure that his teachings are well understood and utilized by all his students. These he achieves by applying all the pedagogical skills of teaching. The notion that anybody can teach no longer holds water, for this notion as for many years sent our educational system into years of ancient traditionalism.

Whichever level one operates, it is pertinent to understand that as teachers or parents, the optimum benefits exist in seeing our students/children learn and succeed. To achieve this however is a daunting but rewarding quest, a quest not easily attainable, only available to those who present themselves worthwhile. Even when the teacher becomes readily involved in the overall development of the child, the task should not be limited to the four walls of the school.

This however is the case for most unique individuals. Many a times, they are neglected even at their first point of contact, the home. They are either shouted at or abused. They often forget that even if the child loses public friendship, the home should be there to provide the child with constant re-assurance, a re-assurance that all is well. It is not as easy as it seems, but indeed, it is a situation one must learn to live and cope with, it is essential that one faces reality.

It should be added that some famous individuals whose names now become synonymous with one invention, event or the other did not find it easy growing up. Some suffered from inability to identify alphabets, some could not perform simple mathematical operations, others where socially unfit, while some operated at levels way too high for their ability levels. However, these individuals never gave up but persisted in a path whose leading ways were unsure. Today, we celebrate and recognize them.

Thus, as parents, teachers or anyone involved in the child upbringing enterprise, it is imperative to know that our attitudes affect the optimum behavior and development of the child. We can raise a socially balanced individual from an autistic individual, we can fine-tune the behaviors of an introvert, and similarly, an academically backward child can be encouraged to learn better.

Once we recognize the weakness in a particular child, it is incumbent on us to also identify and find ways that will make the child exist independently as an entity, and also recognizing the need for social interactions. Special or uniquely different children or individuals should not be laughed at, mocked or looked at as socially unfit individuals, they are inseparable, and essential key players in the overall development of any society.

For the fact that he is uniquely made does not make him unfit, misplaced or demanding too much. What he needs is a smile on your face reassuring him of hope. Your smile is the key to his existence, and his existence is vital to your existence. He may hold the key to the platform of our unknown tomorrow.

UNCLE, CAN I COME AND PLAY WITH YOU?

So the conversation went this way;

CHEATER: perhaps he said; “you are laughing abi”?

Receiver End: Nooo, I’m not laughing ooo. I am coming oo

CHEATER: perhaps he replied;  “They will see us”

Receiver End: Sebi, you will just call me and I will come to your office, nobody will see us na

CHEATER: ….

Receiver End: Uncle, I am coming to play with you oo.

And that was the conversation between a terminal female student and her teacher, nooo, call him cheater, on the day they had further mathematics examination. What is the definition of play as used in the dialogue above? Obviously, from the flirtatious dress the student had on, the definition of play is not far-fetched. For a girl of barely sixteen to call her “cheater” and request for a play in the school, then the question of morality is a thing of the past.

Apart from the dialogue in the conversation, what moral values does the girl hold, if any? To question what her family values are like is checking for water in a basket. A morally upright family will never allow her girl child wear what she had on, not to imagine enrolling her in a miracle center.

That is just a preamble.

It is the season of examination. The fevers of WAEC, UTME, and what have you are spreading around like wild fire. The newly introduced admission pattern devoid of a post utme in Nigerian schools have opened the doors for a business boast for special centers also called miracle centers. The child can no longer settle for a C or B. Every student needs an A. Without numerous A parading the grade lines in the child’s result his/her admission chances are so slim if not narrow.

In a bid to help their children pass excellently well at any cost, the child is withdrawn from the previous low performing school and registered into a miracle center. In the miracle center, the child’s exams success is very much sure and guaranteed. All the family need do is make payment and the cheaters in the hell of learning will perform the desired miracle. All they need are A’s.  Little do they know that they are creating a dark future for the next generation. A generation that has been helped to grow under the auspices of immorality. Later, the present generation complains of the nature of the generations yet to come.

Visibly, the generation for tomorrow are nurtured starting from our today. It is not sufficient to guide our immediate generation alone and leave the upcoming generation in dis-array. But clearly, the present generation is the architect for the dis-array of the upcoming generations. The present generation owns the schools, the religious centers, the political arenas and all agents required for socialization of the child. What are the present generation leaving behind for the future generation? Gambling, malpractices, corruption, nepotism, forgery, the list is endless.

To those who writes on the platforms of learning, what moral values are transmitted in our teachings? What conscious efforts are we making towards making right the wrongs of our present generation? The attitude of thirty days make a pay will not allow most people air their views on issues pertaining to school discipline, for they did not come by their jobs easily. Immorality is now common place in schools, cheaters woo those under their tutelage and everyone seems to be okay with this prevailing happenings.

Back to the issue of examination malpractices and the quest for A’s. Perhaps, the girl in above conversation happens to be one of those in search of A’s in miracle centers. The confidence with which she spoke made it clear she was determined to have her A’s no matter what the cost may be. The call was made publicly and everyone looked on, she was in the company of her colleagues who listened and smiled as the conversation went on.

Indeed, she spoke with a cheater, an angel of doom. What moral standing does that cheater have to be a member of the citadel of learning? This and many more are issues we all need to deliberately ponder upon. She and her network were miles away immediately after the call, attempts to recognize her and possibly the receiver of the call was unsuccessful. Questions on morality need be asked, what values does the school portray; what values are inherent in the school system, are teachers in the school system really teachers or cheaters, what criteria fits perfectly for the definition of morality. These and many more questions needs be critically examined.

The parents, guardian and those who transmute into miracle centers in a bid for “excellent results” are the reasons the country remains where it is. How will such a child cope upon gaining admission? How well can such child perform the required tasks when the needs arise? The answer is simple, payments; financially or by sexual gratification, after all the child was not doing such for the first time, yet the families look on. Most families in the miracle center business are unconsciously preparing their child(ren) for laziness and unseriouness. For a girl child, promiscuity is imminent. Gambling, bullying and other forms of immorality awaits the boy. Yet, such parents will argue; our girl/boy child can never indulge in such acts, but clearly, their foundations into the real world were launched with lies.

Cheaters are not teachers, teachers are not cheaters. Though, they have the same letters, their arrangements are different, signifying a difference in expected roles and functions. The present may seem too stringent for teachers, but along the continuum, hard work pays. The students a teacher carefully guide into a model worthy of emulation will in his/her life time gratify the teacher. Similarly, accolades and praises may be showered on cheaters at the present moment, but in the nearest future, such praises begin to manifest their true meanings; curses upon curses, for such individuals never mentored, never guided the child towards preparing for the numerous tasks ahead. The results they paraded where never theirs, they were bought, and whatever one never labored for, can never be cherished forever.

The message herein is crystal clear, admissions into the higher citadels of learning should be obtained with merits and not through miracle centers or nepotism. When the child fails, it does not necessarily mean the child is a dullard, rather it may be as a result of the psychological nature of the child or other factors. Parents should not so much love their child(ren) to the extent of indulging them in examination malpractices, for whatever foundation they erect for their child(ren) will serve as a reference point for their tomorrow. Help eradicate immoral practices in our examination centers. Grade A does not determine the success of the child.

WHEN SCHOOLING GOES WRONG

Schooling is an aspect of education. A form of instruction which takes place mostly in an organized setting. Usually under the guidance of the teacher, following laid down rules and regulations as spelt out in the curriculum document. As most countries will agree; the product of the school must be useful to himself and the society in which he lives. Hence, the quest for the formal aspect of education.

In an ever changing and dynamic society inherent with varying challenges, the question the school need answer is; how well does it prepare the recipients of education for the challenges of the society? Another significant question worth asking is the place of moral values, the definition of morality has evolved over times, with terms like modernization taking a vital place in our moral concepts.

The place for civil obedience and respect can easily be questionable. No doubt the increase in social vices. It is high time the school ponders on where it is getting it wrong. How many of the schools’ product fits perfectly in the larger society, yet as generally agreed upon; the school should prepare all for the larger society. The school itself been a vital entity in the society needs a structure, a framework that synergizes perfectly with the aspirations of the host community and that of the larger society.

In developing countries, school is fast becoming a source of income, a business entity. The school owners or administrators know little or nothing about school running. Those in charge of molding lives are unconsciously becoming life destroyers. The destiny of a child is now lying fallow, hence solace is found on readily available remedies, for the home is nowhere to be found. Most homes are not homes at all, they are buildings with individuals who know little or nothing about each other living together. They only bear name tags attributable to roles they are expected to perform which are often times not performed.

The job of parenting is now left with the school. The teacher no wonder, he is also called a loco-parentis. A transitional parents, an individual that knows the child more than the family. Many children in the school only see their parents by luck, some through social media platforms, others via mental hallucination. For those who may have access to the phone, they only hear the voice of their parents, i.e. daddy or mummy when he or she is less busy and decides to call the child(ren). The child is placed in care of a nanny, a less privileged individual called house-help or left to live with extended family members. The future of the child is gradually being rewritten, learning to grow in a future unknown, which he or she never bargained for.

Parents in above category often present a defensive argument; we (father and mother) are working round the clock to secure the future of our child(ren), we ensure that our child(ren) get(s) the best education, read(s) the best books, visit(s) the best place and what have you. But the sincere question they failed to answer is that of family time. Where is the mother when the girl child is saddled with her first experience of blood gushing, who was the “good samaritan” that assisted her? And to the father, how well does he know his boy, or girl child as the case may be. What recent skill did he or she learn at school? These and many more probing questions are never answered.

Then, the defence argument is presented once more; “we know the job we do require more of our attention, that is why we placed our child(ren) in a boarding school.” With an element of pride, he or she may say; “in fact according to the records, the school was ranked the best in child monitoring and child mentorship, with excellent school counsellors and what have you.” All justifications for failing to take charge of expected roles.

This is not to say the idea of a boarding school system is bad, however, the argument here should be with respect to the sincerity of the clients of the boarding school. How often do these “busy parents” check on their child(ren)? Do they visit them on open days? Not to ask if they know the names of their child(ren)’s’ teachers. What about the friends the child(ren) keeps? The list is endless and numerous. All these gone wrong due to the neglect of moral values, social responsibility and modernization. Thus, all these tasks are left under the tutelage of the teacher as if he or she has no family to guide.

Discussing with pre-elementary, crèche, kindergarten, or primary teachers and school owners, it is so clear from their responses that parents feel they can make the school do their parenting jobs for them. All it requires is payments and the school gets the job done for them. In one of the chats with a school owner who runs a primary cum kindergarten, the proprietor was in a state of lacuna when a parent pleaded for an additional time extension for picking the child in the crèche class. According to the school owner, the crèche session closes as early as possible, but due to the nature of the jobs of most “busy parents” the school reached a compromise to keep the pupils for additional two hours after stipulated close time. Imagine keeping a baby till 4:00pm in the crèche. But these extra-ordinarily busy parent wants the school to keep the baby till 6:00pm, all in the name of busy business.

In the educational enterprise, key stakeholders sometimes pay lip service to vital aspects and issues. When teachers make recommendations on means to improve the qualities of the school system, they are quickly shun off the stage. An innovative teacher is often time seen as demanding for too much in most business cum profit oriented schools. When schools make rules, teachers ensure conformity. However when issues regarding discipline and sometimes sanctions against prompt fee paying students cum parents emerge, teachers’ opinions are in most cases disregarded, it thus becomes a management issue, with little or no deterrent issued

The solutions to above identified pitfalls are not far-fetched. Sincerity of purpose, dedication to service are all important. When each and every one is involved in social re-orientation, then we are a step closer to solving our emerged, emerging and envisaged problems. By social re-orientation, ideas worth sharing are promoted, those needing visitation are revised, and those requiring extinction are discarded, until then we are far from getting back  our long lost moral values and spirit of social responsibility.