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Teachers: What would we do without them?

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Sir: “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” – Japanese Proverb. As a new school session gradually approaches, many parents and guardians are making efforts to prepare their wards, and their finances, for the new school year. The pupils and students also are eagerly looking forward to going into their new classes – many of them wondering what it would feel like in their new class, and what new things they are going to learn. While some schools are carrying out significant maintenance work on their facilities in preparation for the new school term, such as re-painting, constructing additional classroom blocks, renovating or renewing classroom furniture and improving their fading or worn-out school banners or signposts, other schools are advertising vacancies for new staff to join their schools in the new school term.

School teachers – a major centre of attention, especially for the school children and their parents, are also preparing for the new school year. While some of them used the holiday period to relax, others busied themselves with summer lessons, while still others used the opportunity to search for better-paying teaching jobs, or schools with better working conditions. Teaching is a noble work with good incentive. It is indeed a most vital profession. Teachers lay the essential foundation for a person’s education.

However, it has to be admitted that the teaching profession is a demanding one which presents many challenges – from inadequate pay to inferior classroom conditions; from excessive paperwork to oversize classes; from disrespect and violence to a lack of concern on the part of parents/guardians. Being a teacher is not at all easy. It demands a great deal of self-sacrifice. Also, with the declining economy, life has not been easy for many teachers. And poor remuneration has always discouraged people from moving into the teaching profession. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties and drawbacks, many teachers still persevere in their chosen profession.

What motivates them? While most teachers are motivated by their love for children, others are influenced by their desire to help less fortunate people. Still others are encouraged when they see the successes of their students, and receive praise and appreciation for their efforts in teaching them. In spite of all the challenges, setbacks and disappointments, many teachers still derive great joy from their work. So, what makes a successful teacher? Unless a teacher is convinced of the value of education and is also interested in young people, it is impossible for him or her to become a good, successful, motivated and satisfied teacher.

A good teacher instills confidence in those under his tutelage and makes learning a fascinating challenge. A good teacher recognises each student’s potential and knows how to make it blossom and flourish. To get the best out of each child, the teacher must discover what interests or motivates him or her and what makes the child tick, and a dedicated teacher must love children.William Ayers, a teacher, said: “Good teaching requires most of all, a thoughtful, caring teacher committed to the lives of students.

Good teaching is not a matter of specific techniques or styles, plans or actions. . . . Teaching is primarily a matter of love.” While so much is expected of the teaching profession though, so often the dedicated educators in our schools receive little public praise for their efforts. Have you, as a student or parent, ever thanked a teacher for the time, effort and interest shown? Or even sent a thank-you note or letter? It is good to note that teachers thrive on commendation too. The government, parents and students should highly esteem them and their services. How grateful we should be to those women and men who provoked our curiosity, who stirred the mind and heart, who showed us how to satisfy our thirst for knowledge and understanding – our teachers!

(Some of the content of this write-up was sourced from Awake! Magazine (March 8, 2002).
Daniel Ighakpe wrote from 7th Avenue, ‘O’ Close, FESTAC Town, Lagos.


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Daniel Ighakpe
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