THE NEED FOR ACTIVE STUDENTS’ INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR LEARNING

Learning becomes meaningful when students are actively involved in generating their meanings. In most cases, teachers utilize the traditional approach to teaching which places them in a tight corner as one who is an embodiment of knowledge, a working library and a perhaps a walking library. In this mode, teachers are seen as knowledge disseminators, one who regurgitate facts, the sole heir to the throne of knowledge. The students are positioned as dependents. Their skills of discoveries shattered, as most of their discoveries may not necessarily follow the teachers established pattern.

Teachers who operate at the traditional mode of instruction are predominantly talkative, teaching becomes mechanistic, a set of program, with little or no room for input. Information becomes more of memorization, rote-learning is enhanced. Students’ self-discovery has no place in this mode of education. Hence, students are placed in a constant position of dependence. Rather than being active performers, they become passive observers.

As Jerome Brunner asserts, learning becomes meaningful when students take ownership of their learning. In other words, when students are active participants in their learning process, the teacher’s role as a disseminator of knowledge changes to that of a facilitator. He is now seen as a partner in progress, rather than an island. Learning becomes more fun, real and effective. Due to the nature of learners as explorers, the teacher is now positioned in a situation where he or she must strive continuously to develop and improve his content as well as methodologies to keep pace with emerging trends.

However, as pointed out in the works of Brunner and other constructivists, there exist the need for a conscious drift from the traditional mode of teaching to a much more elaborate and all inclusive system of teaching otherwise referred to as the twenty-first century teaching. The stake here is ensuring that students are active participants in their course of learning. Thus, when teachers teach, they do not indoctrinate, teachers try to appeal to the interest of their learners. For the success of teacher’s encounter in the teaching industry, much tasks and efforts cannot be undermined. Hence, the common practice where in teachers are seen as custodians of knowledge, a walking library, a citadel of knowledge, and in fact knowledge itself no longer holds water.

To impact meaningfully in a student may be a daunting task, yet rewarding. When teachers successfully train a child, a nation is trained. A nation whose aspiration cannot grow beyond the educational qualification of her teachers. A teacher is that special being. Special because he has chosen to take the path often ridiculed by others. A path whose take home does not necessarily commensurate with his task. A path whose reward has been tagged to be in heaven. Funny to ask, who will pay teachers in heaven?, wherein the teachers’ job will be defined as a job for humanity that may not necessarily be tagged by an entitlement.

Thus, in implementing the modern pattern of teaching, teachers should not consider the learners as daft, as individual students possess a unique perception to any course content encountered. Students should be divided into groups and assigned with different tasks. Their discoveries should be presented to the whole class. Contribution of every group member should be emphasized.

Teachers should understand and effectively utilize Brunner’s identified types of discovery learning. In this regard, teachers should be familiar with the concept of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when a student is able to see, identify and establish relationship(s) between what he has learnt in the past and the present knowledge in such a way that the two knowledge are properly understood and digested.

Accommodation occurs when the new learning, material or knowledge is completely different from what the student knows previously. There is little or no correlation between the two knowledge. In this situation, the student needs cognitive restructuring of the past knowledge to accommodate the present knowledge, to avoid mixing up of knowledge and conflicting facts.

Accommodation is applicable when the learner has just finished a topic in a subject and another topic is about to begin in another subject. In most cases, these topics are often dissimilar, thus, teachers must understand the modes of discovery learning and create avenues in manners which assist students to properly prepare for the disjoint study content. Hence, the need for accommodation time, where-in students logically disintegrate the previous unrelated subject from the new subject.

In addition, schools should be structured in a way that recognizes students’ stages of discovery. By so doing, schools are able to optimize students’ orientation to knowledge, while still creating avenues for supportive learning. In other words, lesson contents become adequately relevant to students developmental stage and learning becomes meaningful. Brunner believed that children of different age represent the world to themselves in fundamentally different ways. Hence, children exhibit cognitive abilities in coping with their learning in different ways. To him, three stages are of importance, these are; Enactive Stage, Iconic Stage, and Symbolic Stage.  

The enactive stage occur between child-birth to one year. At this stage, children (toddlers) and pre-scholars think of the world primarily in terms of the actions that can be performed by them. They move towards things that gain their attention. They want to touch, hold, grasp, move and feel any concrete object within their reach. Hence, teachers are expected to create avenues that stimulate this adventurous nature of theirs, while still monitoring their actions to avoid complications as well as injuries.

The second stage called the iconic stage occurs between age two and three years. At this stage, children make use of images and pictures to represent their environment, i.e. persons, things, events etc. This they do by creating a model image of what they have seen before and as such, they are best taught using pictures, images and diagrams. Thus, teachers saddled with learners at this stage are expected to utilize various activities that encourage learners’ imagery re-representation.

The last stage according to Brunner is the symbolic stage, occurring between ages four and seven. At this stage, i.e. late childhood to early adolescence, children have moved from creating mental images to symbolic representation, they can think by means of verbal symbols. Languages can also replace pictures, and images in their thinking and learning. Similarly, this stage allows for the representation of ideas with the use of verbal propositions, mathematical formulas and logical symbols. This stage is characterized by rapid cognitive development and efficiency.

According to Olajide and Gbadesere (1992), discovery learning can exist in three forms, these are; Free inquiry, Guided inquiry and Modified-free inquiry. The free inquiry allows students the opportunity to generate their knowledge or learning without any form of interference from the teacher. This form of discovery allows students the avenue to explore different learning materials already in line with a specified theme. The guided inquiry affords the teacher the opportunity to interact with the learners with a view of correcting misconceptions, ambiguities and provision of essential ideas. The teacher functions more as a facilitator. The modified free inquiry presents an avenue for both teachers and learners to work as a team. Ideas are presented, thoughts are shared and meanings are formulated.

Thus, from the fore-going, when teachers implement discovery learning strategies in their classroom, teaching becomes interesting, less stressful, activity driven and co-operative. The teacher becomes relieved of his initial position as “Mr know it all,” learning becomes a creative avenue. Students’ interest, team spirit and sense of belonging are encouraged and the whole class scenario becomes fruitful. In this regard, parents get more value for their monies, they are inclusive of their child(ren) education, the teachers’ roles are thus appreciated.

INDIVIDUAL UNIQUENESS; OUR DIFFERENCES, OUR UNIQUENESS, OUR STRENGTH

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.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (PART ONE)

This piece is written to particularly acknowledge and remember efforts of those people whom I came across in my educational pursuit. However, for the purpose of this piece, emphasis shall be placed on those I came around during my University hostel days for now.
Sometimes, we need a push, sometimes a nod, sometimes a pat, whichever one we need, when given at the right time, works wonders.
My journey in the University of Lagos, Nigeria started at the cyber cafe…… haaaa, God is wonderful. Initially, I chose Ahmadu Bello University and Usman Dan Fodio University as first and second choice respectively, but the server failed to submit my request, that was Friday.
On Monday, accompanied to the cafe with my brother, since he was well accustomed to the internet than myself, while discussing, he asked rather jokingly; why not Unilag and Lasu. As if programme with a remote control, we edited my forms, filled in details for Unilag and Lasu as first and second choice respectively, and this time, the request was submitted to the then Jamb site.
That marked my first and only step towards seeking admission into a university via direct entry after prior acquisition of the Nigerian Certificate in Education. Soon, someone that matters my senior colleague; Mathew Owolola was most helpful for his useful updates and affirmative statements.
Then came admission, of course accompanied by so many processes of registration to include screening, biometrics, data capture among others. Thank God, I scaled through. During this period marked my first day of going home so late, I got home around 11:25pm that very day of rigorous screening, ooooh, so much stories.
Eventually, I crossed the hurdle of admission and registration. Next was that of accommodation. Now, the story begins.
Ofcourse, everything was computerized; online this, online that. Hmmmm, I missed the online hostel allocation exercise, meaning clearly, no accommodation. Then my saving grace, MSSN, Unilag came as at when I needed her, all thanks to Bro. Mathew Owolola and Bro Mautin, the then welfare secretay of the society. Thus, the mosque became my home away from home. While staying in the mosque, I saw my senior colleague then during my college days, Bro Abdulahmeed Olatunbosun, through him, I linked Bro Mustapha Kelani, also from my college days. Fortunately, he had been offered accommodation at the prestigious King Jaja Hall, the hall of gentlemen as it is fondly called, he accepted my request to move in with him without collecting a dime, may Allah (SWT) reward you.
Hence, I became a Jaja inmate, and those belonged to the category called Squatters. Our room was RM 007 wing A, adjacent to the barber’s shop, directly opposite the hostel kitchen at wing C, and bounded by the toilet in front. You can only imagine how the room smells early in the morning, when all residents bonafide or otherwise go empty their bowels. The room was indeed spacious and housed so many categories of residents ranging from landlords to squatters to floaters and of course hangers. Each category has its unique features, not for this discuss though.
My landlord, Kelani Mustapha studied Business Administration. Thus, it explains why my wing was dominated by Biz admin students as they call themselves. Our direct bunkee i.e bunk mate Nelson Mafolabomi served as Doyin’s landlord, our sidee i.e. direct opposite bunk mate had Mark Fatoye, David’s landlord and their immediate bunkie; Abideen Mohammed, Danjuma and Udoka’s landlord, our best cook and walking library. At the other wing of the room, housed, a rather unusual category of students who could have qualified as musical icons. They include Okoilu Prudence popularly called trigger or bullet, whatever that means, the duo Habeeb and Femi, thanks goodness they formed a music group called STV with another unusual guy, though not from RM007. Then the engineers, Dare and his friend, those two were constantly writing reports about some lab works and always mentioning Mowete, an engineering don. Not to mention the VIP himself, Systems as we fondly called him, possibly because he studied systems engineering, that guy taught me how to clean iron with candle…. that method is risky though. Occassionally, we had visitors like Govi, Mohammed amongst others, those guys added more fun.
My year three witnessed my stay in a rather far environment. Far away from King Jaja but sharing boundary with the Faculty of Education and a direct neighbour to Madam Kofo Hall. This hostel has Saburi Biobaku as its name and as such we called it Biobaku for short. My room this time was at the topmost floor, Rm310, the extreme room and ofcourse very close to the toilet. Here, my Landlord Olaguro Modiu, a colleague from college, rather unusual person who keeps on finding x, wonders if he would ever find it, was into the recharge card business, cant forget that late banging on the room door that day around 1:00am, an unusual customer coming to buy recharge card, the noisy room suddenly became a grave yard. This room had wonderful creatures. Mostly creatures from Faculty of Education and Social Science.
I stayed in the lower bunk with my landlord, I had so many bunkees, the initial occupant, Awari was replaced with the cousin and his friend. Those two, wonderful creatures indeed, a Doctor and a Dentist. Dr. Taofeek set the sleeping record in the hostel for sleeping for over sixteen hours, haaa, that guy reads more than the library, then his friend, the dentist, manages his time, but mostly spends it at home. Then came Arinze, the Ezegburugburu of Biobaku hall, gentle, friendly and easy going. My sidee, Modiu’s course mate, Egbon Segun as he calls him, a quite, easy going young man had a bicycle which infact almost served all inmates in RM 310. Then on this day, a unique one, Egbon bought a printer, then the room became a famous business center. Directly opposite my bunk was Oboh Francis, an HKHE student who seldom visited the pitch, leaves in the second mile, i hope demolition never gets there, just kidding. His bunkee Akinmola Kenneth, a rather unusual personality, talks seldomly, gets himself busy with his Fifa, always humming and ooh my God, you dont want to know. Then, there sidee, top bunk Igbason a good questioning machine, always generating well constructed and brain tasking questions. His co-bunk mate, Gbolabo, spends adequate time on his clothes, never wore a pair without startching and his method of hailing people, you just can’t imaging himself and Kenneth, though both studying Educational Administration. One of those days, he was even advised to stop schooling and start a cloth starching outlet. But of course as an academic gizmo, that never moved him. Then, their bunkee, Aloba and Ashaolu, an unsual pair. Aloba might infact be Asaolu future inlaw, ooh, just kidding. Aloba studied Educational Administration while Asa as we call Asaolu studied Urban and Regional Planning or just say URP. Those two attended same secondary school back then, Aloba was a senior colleague to him. Asa was our cook in the room, so long as the ingredients were available, Asa is always on point, but never joke around him with Pes 2012, that football game that compensated us on weekends. Then, there is this quite young man, Asa’s friend, Saka Ahmed from science, that guy, so multi talented, has the voice for music, a very sweet one, but you dare not merge music with science, unless you want to find your GP in the lagoon. He cooks randomly, but with a special touch and indeed his dishes were mouth watering. Then, extra hangers, Tunde and his brother, those two were diploma students, over engaged with fashion. Tunde has the height of an iroko tree and when you see him, you cant but just look again.
Indeed, RM310 qualified for a business center, than a room or an hostel. So many business activities from printing, to recharge cards, to starching and of course arguments. Arguments upon arguments. One of those memorable arguments was when our visitor/customer who later became Mr Biobaku claimed that the Bible is an Holy Spirit, after losing his argument. Also, that between myself and Modiu on the appropriate Faculty position to vie for, I owe you a lot for that great discuss.
Oooooh, almost forgot our celebrity, Okon, Okolipapa as we called him, Aloba’s childhood friend, our friend from club uno. That guy indeed a character, he has controls, you can only imagine. Then, there is steam up, our neighbour, always coming to steam up. Thanks to Modiu’s lipton yellow label tea, haa, that tea does wonders.
In my final year, I found my self in RM113, same Saburi Biobaku hall this time not a squatter but as a bonafide. Along with myself was Modiu, then Kenneth, and also Ahmed and then Emmanuel, special squatters, hangers and floaters, haaa, the list is endless. This new room housed the elites, filled with what the yorubas call Afobaje. My bunk mate was supposed to be Vincent, but somehow it became Asa, the same Asaolu from RM310. A bonafide somehow, thus he brought Bityoung Bryakura Lehwot. This time around, Asa was obsessed with internet browsing; Henri Carr, Amina and even new hall wifi on the go, but ofcus never jokes with his tommy and Fifa.
By my side housed top bunk, a rather contradicting pair, Dennis Akinyelure and Kade, a direct opposite of one another. While the earlier is gentle, the later restless, though from same ethnic group. Dennis, ‘Lure Silas,’ an unusual person, talented, loves public speaking, but sometimes needs a push, doing great with RYTE initiative, thumbs up bro. Kade, a walking library, loves junks. Under bunk was occupied by a microbiologist, a former Welfare Secratary of ULSSA. I enjoyed his conversation on health issues and analysis of digestion of beans.When paired with Ahmed, the discussion seems unending.
My direct opposite bunkee housed Hussein, the chief landlord, a final year student of Quantity Surveying, so fun to be with, my supplier of Indian movies, oooh, I love Indian films, then his co-bed mate, Femi. Femi has got swags, the fine guy with a cute ride, ladies dream guy, seldom talk, only when he feels like. Their direct bunk mate was Oto Ubangbha, the president personal assistant and defender, even when the president is at fault, he sees nothing wrong, has a good number of shoes, so obsessed with fashion. Then his diploma friend from secondary school, Sunny spends all day making sure his hair looks radiant. Back to Bityoung from Asa, that guy has great skills in graphics designing and photoshopping, no wonder he became Modiu’s teacher, cant stop laughing whenever I remember the chase he gave Oto and Sunny off the bunk to the floor. Anyway, guys love arranging beds on the floor while sleeping.
Their sidee housed at top bunk an English professor and internet guru, Abdussalam Amoo, Bumlala, the then General Secretary of NUESA, a rather walking dictionary, does all my proof readings, ooh, that guy is so talented, he is a bomb. I miss the smell of his favorite meal “beans.” He could browse while sleeping, no wonder he works online as an online editor, now a site expert. Below his bunk housed Baba Toshiba, name he got from his laptop from Modiu, Asa’s colleague from URP, Hon. Seyi Olabisi Asiwaju. A gentle, easy going gentleman, and ofcus Modiu’s playing toy as he picks all form of disturbance with him, sometimes you cant but pity him.
Now, missing you guys, NYSC at hand, moving up, never staying static, thats the rule of life.
Happy reading, cheers.

A YEAR MORE, A YEAR LESS

We all wish to witness our days of fulfillment. Days whose shadows will recreate good memories. As we add a year, we rejoice and celebrate. Many a people see this as a normal thing, a right and not a privilege, but the truth of the matter is that it is but a privilege and not a right.
Yet we dream, dream, dream and dream for a better tomorrow, a worthy future, which some may never be chanced to witness. But seriously it is so for all, as we unconsciously draw closer to our final destination; the grave, each time we add a year, hmm, we lose a year.
Dreams not be realistically achieved, thus, appearing to many as a castle built on a sea with little or no reinforcement.
Oh, what a life we live in, a life of competitions, aspirations and so many challenges, not bothered if the means to cater for them all are actually achievable, yet man continues the search to fulfil his never ending desires.
However, the real issue should be “what values have we added to some one nearby or far away, what reaction follows immediately after the mention of our names, are we problem solvers or a problem on its own.” The question seems endless, but the truth is the memories of our tomorrow are planted by the actions of our today. It’s easy to blame a faulty movie on the director, but our wrong memories and actions are our doings and ours alone. Like the saying, it is whatever a drunkard nurses that actually comes to past, not the effect of alcohol.
May our shadows bring good memories.
To all SEPTEMBER born, happy celebration and remember a year more, a year less.

THE JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION

It is a popular saying that the journey of one thousand miles start with a bold step, a journey one may or may not necessarily say what lies in wait for the explorer. So also is the journey embarked upon by individuals in love with one another. A journey with so many events yet to unfold. It can be likened to the situation of a book review, a situation whereby two book reviewers each given the task of reviewing the publication of bidding publishers. In most cases, the review may or may not yield desired outcomes particularly if the review is done with a mindvset of prejudice. In most cases, the journey between these two individuals many atimesstarts with the public declaration and affirmation of the existence of love between them, this is usually done in the form of exchange of marital wows, a declaration which is made with pride. To make matters more passionate, these individuals unconciously arrest themselves with the smallest handcuff ever made,… the wedding ring. They pray for their union to be fruitful and serve as a model for other relationships. As earlier stated as in the case of the book reviewers, events begin to unfold, individual characteristics begins to manifest. Communication distruption sets in, the gap begins to widen, who is going to bell the cat, each party begins to outshine the other rather than been a pious supporter and comforter. Marriage failure set in, the love and affection diminishes, but in most cases, there exist an iota of love left inside of these individuals but the ego factor of whom to bell the cat distrupts its manifestation. However, most model marital relationships many may say was made in Heaven have in most cases passed through this phase of struggle, but the backbone for its sustainance is mutual trust and respect. This is key for most successful relationships. Other essential flavors amongst others are; Humility, Honesty, Collaboration, Motivation and The can do spirit. It should however be added that these characteristics may not necessarily be found all at once in an individual and as such individual party should strive towards complimenting each other, rather than playing the faults finding game. Thus, to all intending to sail in the lovers boat, this is from me to you, happy exploration. Happy reading, Cheers.