Happy Independence Day to every Nigerian from The Learning Craft. My thoughts today are focused on what our future is looking like and I’d like to view it from the lens of our teachers. It is my hope that we can truly attain sustainable educational growth in a short time to come.
“The figure of the school teacher may well be taken as a central symbol in any modern society” – Richard Hofstadter
Many decades ago, the average public school male teacher was easily recognised by his very well tailored, crisp and gatored pair of shorts matched with a glistening white shirt. The female teacher obviously cleaned up nicely in smart flowy gowns and skirts; suffice to say that they were usually very well spoken. They almost mirrored what the economy looked like in those times, full of milk and honey, bustling with hope and fruitful prospects.
Teachers, to some extent are always conceived by others, by expectations and fantasies of students and demands of parents, administrators, policy makers, politicians and to all of whom we all are as the “other”. But we quickly forget that we are formed as well by their and our own internalized histories.
Rolling forward the decades to today’s Nigeria, that very image or figure of the school teacher is very different. Teachers are largely unexpected to earn a decent living, ride in comfortable vehicles, live in decent homes and possibly unexpected to even speak our official language (English) impeccably! But, does that not also mirror what our economy now looks like? Today, many still do not expect that our schools can become better….yes, I hear that a lot!
We are certainly quick to also forget that teachers can become witnesses to the notion that intelligence and learning can lead to other worlds and not just the successful exploitation of ours. And what better place to begin than promoting a process of empowering the country’s teachers!
Yet, so much is expected from teachers! The pressure upon them is enormous to effectively do their jobs against all apparent odds – financial, societal, economical, cultural and political. A job they most likely would record low successes. A case in mind is the last results of WAEC where to my surprise most people blamed the teachers for the poor results without associating their so called ‘lack of performance’ to the system that has retained them in the midst of institutional loopholes.
While we wait for new and well-regulated reforms to be made across all the states of the Federation; what we see in our public school teachers, and I mean in the larger part of Nigeria, is a snippet of what our country was, what it is, and hopefully what is to come!
I believe that we have a better tomorrow because we are better poised to bring about a much needed change in the midst of a multitude of support from international agencies/institutions around the world. And…yes, we can!