We are on Facebook and Twitter!

Like us on facebook - www.fb.com/thelearningcraft
Follow us on Twitter - @learningcraftNG

30/12/2012

Covenant University expels about 126 students for not attending a church service - a case of a punishment too severe?


I can't help but blog about this because it brings a lot of deep concerns home to me. I have a colleague whose child was suspended for a session from  the same school for dressing 'inappropriately' even though she was found all covered up with a scarf.

Schools are often within their rights to punish students who refuse to conform to the school's code of conduct which may include dress codes, spiritual commitments, banned food and items etc- Some student's may expectantly find some status quo more difficult to keep.

However, expulsion as a means of punishment has always come across a bit too extreme to me except in rare cases. It is the hallmark of a school to educate and give a hopeful future. I find that most of the motives behind these punishments are met to the contrary, doing more harm than good generally. There are too many questions to be asked. The desire to learn tends to be doused as an aftermath of explosion. So consider this;
  • Was the so called 'grievous' offence warranting of the psychological and emotional harm to students and what image does it leave of the institution? 
  • Is this the best measure to embark on in molding the student towards developing a responsible yet confident behavior-does it make them conform?
  • If the student was caught in a wrongful act, expulsion may adversely change the course of the student's life suddenly. Will it not will surely bring additional pain, fear and worry for the future?
I sincerely think that many of reasons students get expelled from school are not worth an expulsion.....especially for "not attending" a church service!

I am aware that the students in a school such as the Covenant University are aware of the rules that must be followed. I'm only wondering if the 'Deity' whom is to be served wouldn't have reacted differently in the face of such a situation. After all, it has been asked.... "Let the one who has committed no sin cast the first stone!" 

I rest my case!

Read full reasons for expulsion here.

25/12/2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to The Learning Craft Readers!


I have been away for quite some time.....very odd for a blogger but it was for very special reasons, many of which you will all be privy to know as they develop. My absence was very much needed for the blog. Well, I'm back now and yes...it is the time of the year when we all sit back, evaluate our year and make resolutions we hope to stand by! It is also the time when we gather as a family and give love. Children love this season not only because of the gifts received but also because of the love and warmth of family time it comes with. However, don't forget to leave that gift under the Christmas tree now....(smile)! 

2012 has been a year of interesting events for education in Nigeria, many of which we laughed, cried and hoped for change! It was the birth year of the blog and the birth of beautiful dreams to come true in 2013. I'm looking forward to a better year for education in Nigeria! I promise to champion the causes closest to my heart and keep holding on to the dream that we can practice the minimum standards of education in its totality in Nigeria to the grassroots.

So, with a grateful and thankful heart, I wish all Learning Craft readers the merriest of 'Christmases' and a budding/fruitful year ahead. To all my followers, contributors and readers, I specially say thank you. It is because we believe in change collectively as Nigerians; that I am convinced that we will attain better results for education in Nigeria.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

10/12/2012

Do we need Teacher Assistants across all primary classes?


In my years of teaching, I cannot underestimate the importance of Teacher Assistants. Having taught in a school where it is not practiced, I have always known that the knowledge being passed on would have a higher percentage of success if there were a teacher assistant in each of those classrooms. It is even somewhat ludicrous to see how effective teaching and learning in primary schools can be without teacher assistants especially in Lower Primary classes from grades 1 - 3.

Cutting edge schools that are applying effective modern practices have chosen to employ increasing numbers of Teacher Assistants. The reason is to support the delivery of quality teaching and a modern curriculum. It is encouraging to note the ample evidence from research and inspection that many teacher assistants are helping to raise standards in the classrooms in which they work.

The essence of the successful deployment of these assistants lies in the nature of the support that they can provide. They include:

• support for the pupil

• support for the teacher

• support for the curriculum

• support for the school.


Teacher Assistants help to:

  • Support classroom management and assist with general administration
  • Help manage pupil behaviour.
  • Support pupils’ health, safety and emotional/ social development.
  • Establish relationships with learners.
  • Help pupils to access the curriculum.
  • Support the development and effectiveness of work teams.
  • Work with other professionals
  • Liaise effectively with parents


The essence of the job is supporting children to learn under the guidance of a teacher. The sort of tasks will vary from school to school and even from teacher to teacher depending upon the needs of individual pupils and /or classes. The tasks could therefore include:
  • Supporting small groups in the classroom – especially literacy and numeracy. This is done to reach all weak students and to ensure understanding of all concepts taught
  • Working with individuals or small groups outside the classroom when appropriate. This includes ensuring safety in classes.
  • Preparing and modifying learning materials
  • Supporting individuals to keep attention on the lesson – monitoring behaviour to help keep them “on task”.
     There you go! How can we "really" teach effectively without Teacher Assistants? Keeping it real.

    02/12/2012

    Inspector Gadget - Why, Oh Why?



    Some public office holders are impressive! In October 2012, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State announced the removal of 41 zonal inspectors and chief inspectors of education and local government education officers over non-performance and negligence of duty in continuation of the on-going sanitization of the state education sector. The decision, according to him, was the outcome of a continuing performance audit. He even went on to demote the Vice-Principal of a particular school for his incessant late coming. BRAVO Governor Adams!

    I had to go around for meetings a few days ago and I came back with very many mixed feelings. In some cases, it felt like 90% of our schools are finding it rather difficult to appreciate what education means BUT as an educator, I know that this is not entirely true and there is more than meets the eye. However, there are many schools that are waving the flag of education in spite of the challenging environment and resources they have.

    In the coming months, I hope to begin reviewing schools' standards and post ratings and I hope to involve as many Learning Craft readers. This will help in your decision taking regarding choices of schools for your children.

    The primary responsibility of Education Inspectors (individuals who are in charge of the monitoring and maintenance of Minimum Standards in Schools) according to our National Policy on Education shall be to: 

    • diffuse information about instructional materials tested and effective teaching methods; 
    • obtain information in respect of difficulties experienced by teachers in schools and institutions and further provide advisory solutions through appropriate authorities; 
    • monitor and document the overall quality of education in schools and proffer practical and positive advice; 
    • organize meetings with and workshops for teachers when necessary with a view to improving their professional competence; 
    • provide a strong sense of comradeship and professionalism among teachers. 
    Now, this sounds all fantastic but I only see Inspector Gadget's tools working...if you  get my drift!

    Where are these 'so called' inspectors? We can't afford Inspector Gadget's clumsiness in a crucial time when we must take education in Nigeria to the next level! If they have been going about your duties, many schools will not see the light of day. Children are learning under grossly non-conducive environments and parents are oblivious of the right practices as they are unaware of their rights, hence anything goes. Gosh! I have to say that I am not a great fan of the now popular saying.... 'it is well!'

    I saw schools with less-than-standard playing grounds, classrooms with incorrect specifications, windows without cross ventilation, teachers absconding classes, an immeasurable number of safety hazards and inappropriate teaching and learning practices to name a few. 

    These are not a function of lack of funds but of mismanagement, clumsiness, corruption and a general lack of maintenance on the practice of our 'minimum standards'. As worthy Inspectors/educators, the onus is on you to build and ensure a brighter future for the average Nigerian child.

    “If the teachers don’t teach, we have no future and your brief is to ensure that the teachers work and yet you failed to do that. “It’s a new Edo, everybody must be put on notice to work and justify their pay. I have a duty to remind you that when you have abandoned your job, you have also lost it.” (Adams Oshimhole to the Inspectors of education)

    Can the worthy Inspectors and their bosses (in the form of stakeholders - governors and ministries of education) please rise up to the challenge?

    22/11/2012

    CELEBUTORS Spotlight: Education is Giving back as PTA of St Saviours School Ikoyi, Lagos 'adopts' the Canal Primary School, Orile Lagos


    Who are CELEBUTORS™ on The Learning Craft? CELEBUTORS™ include persons, institutions, groups and individuals who promote, support and inspire educational development in and for Nigerian Schools. Here are some CELEBUTORS™ we definitely want to know about.

    Nine months ago, an unsuspecting set of school pupils and teachers of the Canal Primary School, Orile Lagos had strange visitors walk into their school. They will soon learn that they were all members of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of the St. Saviours School Ikoyi, Lagos; who upon being told about the degrading environment and near absence of teaching aids in their school had decided to pay them a visit. Kingsley Omose, a legal practitioner and philanthropist had taken the message of the unacceptable condition of the Canal School with pictures and persuaded his colleagues to come to their rescue. 

    The core of Education has never been one of profit making. From Informal to Non formal and Formal education, the desire to transfer knowledge has always stemmed from the dreams of selfless persons or groups who appreciate the power of education as a wheel for human improvement.



    Since that decision early this year, change has come gradually for good with donations of teaching and learning aids to the children and their teachers. Just last week, with the support of MTN, items worth thousands were given to the Canal School. Items such as 10 white boards,  generating set, 8 tables and chairs for teachers who had none, 2 laptops, DVDs, printers and several educational materials and cash donations were given to the school to get fuel and keep the generator running anytime the lights go out for the comfort of the students.

    The Chair person of the PTA, Bolanle Gobir said "we are doing this for the love of children which is our theme in  St. Saviours School PTA this year. We believe that these are the future of Nigeria and we must support them". He added "we have adopted Canal School Orile as our 'baby' and we will do everything to watch it grow"....

    ....and tears of joy filled the space.

    Talking about the future of Nigeria, the PTA of St. Saviours School Ikoyi are the future that is today's Nigeria...... CELEBUTORS™ of our time!

    I am so proud of them.

    20/11/2012

    Corona Schools - Competing to make a difference

    Encouraging the spirit of inquiry and a healthy competition is one of the objectives of Nigeria's Pre-Primary education. Competitions build teamwork, communication and socialization skills and brilliant discoveries. It creates success and makes people become better at what they can do. Corona Schools' Trust Council is leading by example by organizing the 2012 Inter School Quiz.

    The annual competition is part of the efforts of the council to ensure that they develop students that can compete both locally and internationally. The 2012 competition was recently held at Corona School, Victoria Island, Lagos and it featured Debates and Quizzes in English Language and Mathematics, General Studies and the Sciences. These were actively contested by students from all Corona Schools.

    The Chairman of Corona Schools' Trust Council, Dotun Sulaiman said while speaking about the significance of the competition, that the whole idea of the competition was to instill in the children a spirit of competition. He said they are hoping to breed winners who can compete anywhere in the world.

    LIST OF WINNERS
    • Corona School Victoria Island - Overall Winners
    • Corona School Ikoyi - 2nd Place
    • Corona School Gbagada - 3rd Place
    • Corona School Apapa - 4th Place

    Ifueko Omowunmi-Thomas, Head Teacher of Corona School, Victoria Island said on her schools's win that, the secret behind their success is a very strong team that worked together. She added that collaboration, team work and the teachable hearts of the children brought them to this success. In her words, "it is a very tough competition, to maintain the record; we have to work a little harder next year. We are going to ensure that we work as best as we can. We have a good system that has a very good progression plan. For instance, when the children come into Corona at Nursery level, we are thinking of Primary Six while we are working with them.

    Amazing stuff!

    It displayed a show of excellence, intelligence, composure and great skill acquisition - all of these qualities I love to celebrate. 

    What can I say? My budding CELEBRIKIDS™!

    19/11/2012

    Wa-Zo-Bia! Schools, how about a "Mother Tongue Celebration Day"?

    Since the last time I wrote about saving our indigenous languages on GOING, GOING, GOING....GONE? - Vernacular and our native tongue, I have had to research on practical ways schools could participate in safeguarding our indigenous languages and identity. This is one of those projects that is dear to my heart hence my excitement to share a few suggestions that schools could practice in promoting our mother tongue with The Learning Craft readers.

    Before that, studies are increasingly showing that we learn easier and better in our mother tongue. However, it has to be taught in school, which is not what we see for many of Nigeria's minority languages. It may seem difficult to achieve but schools can play a major role in promoting multilingual education in small but strong measures. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of education and culture.

    The International Mother Tongue Day has been celebrated every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism by UNESCO. Speaking our mother tongue is a right to education that we must not let slip out of our hands as many of our local languages are being threatened by the more dominant foreign languages.

    Why is it so important?

    How many of you think aloud in your mother tongue? If you were taught in your language, you might have not had to struggle through those difficult topics. I am not suggesting that our official language be thrown out; but that a multilingual education could have changed many stories. People simply learn better in a language that is familiar - their mother tongue!

    Nigeria is a country with loads of cultural and language diversity. Many of our languages are endangered. Getting educated in our local languages however diverse they are; will strengthen the cohesion of our societies and build a better educated populace. The task is not an easy one - but schools can play a huge part in promoting and celebrating our mother tongues to protect our identity.

    How? 

    By setting a day aside to educate students through a themed 'Mother Tongue Day Celebration' monthly. The objective is to promote linguistic diversity,  preserve our cultural identity, ensure 'education for all' and protect our languages from extinction.  

    I suggest that prelude to the day of celebration, students are tasked by teachers to research (in conjunction with their parents) on various aspects of a local language on a monthly basis. Using a thematic approach, this may include cultural aspects of dance, marriage, festivals OR food and fashion. Their work will be presented on the 'Mother Tongue Day'. It will be a day to gain knowledge and exposure to the use of other indigenous languages in the most simple form of communication.

    Schools could also adopt the use of randomly selected language for greetings. Every month, a language is chosen as the 'language of the month'. It would be used as mode of greeting and salutation among teachers and students in and out of the classroom.

    There is a lot more I have planned out as this is a sneak peek of what can be done.

    Here are some more suggestions from UNESCO.

    Schoolteachers:  

    • Do pupils know that many children in their schools may have mother language(s) that are different from the languages used in their schools?
    • Teachers can get these children to introduce themselves and talk about their families and their cultures, and teach a little of their mother language to other children.
    • They can read poetry, tell a story or sing a song in their mother language. Paintings and drawings with captions in mother languages can be displayed inside and outside schools.

    Language is a symbol of continuity; and identity (in the mother tongue) is one of the greatest binding forces of unity and integration.

    If we can deliver early childhood education and primary education all across Nigeria in our various mother tongues, we will also achieve equity in education, better opportunities and education for all.

    13/11/2012

    Is it too early for children in primary school to learn about sex education?

    It is a timely discussion. In some time past, a 'gory' picture went viral on social media about a female toddler being coerced to perform an unthinkable sexual act with an adult male? I was and still is so bitter about it!

    Children are learning about their sexuality all the time, whether or not this is done formally by parents/caregivers or teachers. This learning takes place every day through observing adult relationships around them, and the images they see portrayed in the media about gender, body image and relationships ( Milton, 2000).

    For most boys and girls, puberty changes are experienced in primary school. Signs of puberty can commence at 9 years of age and so receiving sexuality and relationships education prior to the onset of puberty ensures boys and girls are prepared for puberty changes and are not embarrassed or frightened by them. (Blake, 2002; Ray & Jolly, 2002). 

    You see, the truth is that if you don't teach them about it, someone else will. You just may not appreciate the outcome, especially in the current media boom! If children and young people are not provided with factual information from trusted sources like parents/caregivers and teachers, they are usually vulnerable to receive an often inaccurate and misleading information about sexuality from sources as home helps, peers and the media.

    Nigeria's family structure is being tested here. The reliance on other family/societal/cultural support system is increasingly ineffective. Were they ever really effective in the past? I can't emphatically say that things are necessarily different today. Certainly, the media revolution is playing a massive role in disseminating news on sexual abuse because we get to hear the news in 'real' time!

    For those who feel uncomfortable about the topic, be sure you are not alone. It is quite common to feel uncomfortable talking about such abuse; but do not let it deter you from being explicit with those in your care. The acknowledgement of personal discomfort on discussing this is a useful place to begin. You could start by explaining how uncomfortable the topic makes you feel even though it is vital information for their protection. Educators across the country have an important role to play here. We should begin to discuss, plan and implement programs, projects and trainings in sex education for children. Talking and teaching about it often becomes much easier with practice.

    .

    If we take a statistics here, we would discover that a good number of people around us were deprived of a blissful childhood by 'so called' close relatives, neighbours and home helps. Educate your child and do all to ensure they are safe from lurking sexual predators. Mostly, protect the girl child.

    11/11/2012

    Hugging and the "difficult child"


    A lot more parents are complaining that their children are being difficult. The 'difficult' bug seems to have hit most children and parents are no longer knowing how to handle this situation.


    The 'difficult' child referred to here is sometimes only difficult at home. In these cases, he/she manages to pull themselves together at school but then disintegrates upon entering their house. This is some comfort for the parents who are at least spared the agony of public shame, but they still feel helpless, overwhelmed and miserable at home in having to deal with disobedience, tantrums, endless demands or other unpleasant behaviors.

    Some complaints include challenging behaviors such as physical aggression and rage, sluggish job at chores, disobedience, lying, stealing, rudeness and frequent interruptions, homework resistance, destruction of property, inappropriate behavior in public, sexual acting out, swearing and cursing,  refusal to eat, sarcasm and lack of boundaries.

    Parents want to hear from teachers about how clever or well behaved their child is but when they hear words like "he/she has trouble settling down" or "he upsets other children and finds it hard to be organized for class work", their heart literally sinks.

    That you may have raised a "good" kid will not guarantee that the next child  will be "good" and vice versa. Usually, you may find that it has more to do with your own temperament in dealing with the particular child that has aroused the difficulty in that child. Acknowledging that some children are harder to parent is often helpful. To label a child 'difficult' has the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The secret of parenting a difficult child is to give loads of hugs and stop being angry so you can go past the hurts into healing.


    According to Nancy Thomas, an attachment parenting expert "human beings need eight hugs a day to maintain emotional stability; wounded children need twelve hugs a day for emotional healing."

    Here are some more suggestions:
    • find a therapist or counselor who understands the dynamics of difficult children and follow instructions.
    • require your child to be respectful and polite in his words and manners. Hold no discussion until the difficult child learns to defer to authority.
    • when a child is highly charged, the parent must step back and learn to be calm in the chaos. The child needs to understand that you know how to remain calm in an upsetting situation.
    • Allow the difficult child to experience natural consequences of his bad decisions. However, natural consequences have some limits. The safety of the child is more important. Thus, logical consequences are the next strategies for effective parenting. For every damage inflicted on property, the difficult child must be prepared to repay it back. It can be in monetary form or in extra chores. 
    • use positive words and thoughts always as you do away with all negative thoughts and words. Thoughts become things.
    HUG THEM AT LEAST 12 TIMES A DAY! You will be pleasantly shocked. If they refuse, be certain you have scored points in their hearts that you truly care for them as the process of healing is taking place.


    10/11/2012

    Weekend Thrill: Support UNICEF - Wash your car at Sheraton Lagos to promote education for every child

    Education is the right of every child. I would like Lagosians to visit Sheraton Hotel Lagos to wash their car for a token in support of the UNICEF 2012 Road to Awareness campaign which aims to raise at least $300,000 to help educate a child.

    Sheraton Lagos Hotel associates are organising an auto wash program to help raise funds for the education of Children in Africa. Please support this cause by taking your cars for washing. The initiative began on the 29th of October to end on this Sunday, 11th of November 2012.

    All funds collected will be sent to UNICEF for this noble cause. An educated mass leads to a less ignorant populace - a people that will promote better decision taking. In this, I am optimistic for a brighter country. 

    Dear Learning Craft readers, do find it in your stride to support this cause.

    02/11/2012

    Video: Venus and Serena Williams Dancing Live in Lagos - Empowering and Moulding the 'girl child' through education

    The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena were mentoring female students at Government Secondary School, Osbourne Ikoyi Lagos, Nigeria. It was all about educating the 'girl child' - a movement so close to my heart.



    Don't you just love the way they are dancing and having fun with the students! Yes, it is all about courage and determination! I love to see students having fun! Education is fun and should remain so. Here are some of the reasons why they came.

    The international tennis stars, who arrived in Lagos on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as part of the African 'Breaking the Mould' tour partnered with 'Always', a feminine hygiene brand of Procter & Gamble Nigeria for a joint girls empowerment event at the secondary school.
    During the visit, the Williams sisters provided the school girls with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only meet their idols but also be inspired and empowered by them.
    They were also part of the 'Always puberty education' class and spoke with the girls before performing with the students the 'Always' song, "Little Big Steps", to empower them through a shared singing and dancing experience.
    As role 'Mould Breakers' and 'Champions of change' themselves, having weathered the unfavourable side of life to become global stars, this visit by Serena and Venus represents a significant effort that could help break the mould, misconceptions and stereotypes that have dogged women and girls in Nigeria.

    I LOVE THIS!

    01/11/2012

    Teacher flogs student to death: I SAY "BAN FLOGGING IN SCHOOLS"

    By now, you may have heard about a 12 year old pupil of a secondary school in Awka, Anambra State, Miss Chidimma Ukachukwu, who died after she was allegedly flogged by her teacher for failing to do her homework. The girl fainted after being flogged severally by a female teacher and was subsequently rushed to a hospital where she died.

    We have long passed the stone age. Teachers should have no right to flogging students! There are many ways to making students do their homework in a school system and if they don't, there are equally many other ways of ensuring they do. If we delve into the reasons why Chidimma did not do her homework, it may include that;
    - she forgot
    - she wouldn't attempt it because she didn't understand what to do
    - she had chores and was too tired to do it
    - she dislikes the teacher and/or the subject
    - she was just being silly (which is normal in children) or somewhat lazy.

    There may be more but all of the above reasons cannot be verified as Chidimma lies dead. Even though the reason or reasons are six feet under the ground, no teacher should be allowed to flog a child! Is there any study that has linked reduction of exam failures, student pregnancy and crime to the use of 'flogging'? Or an increase in knowledge emanating from 'flogging'?



    A culture of 'strict' upbringing and family values have little to do with flogging but with consistency of 'home rules' and from being good examples to children. Children are more vulnerable and will always act like children. I have consistently maintained that it doesn't fall within the purview of a teacher primarily to 'discipline' a child. Our job is to teach. Disciplinary measures are and will forever remain the responsibility of parents. A student will pass through the school for a while, but will remain with their parent's for life.

    There are people who get easily overwhelmed with anger. Addictions happen easily if people are not checked by the law hence a law should be passed to prohibit flogging in all schools across Nigeria. A recent legislation has been passed in Lagos State by the administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola that flogging, beating or physical torture of school students, and of workplace apprentices, has been outlawed and declared both illegal and criminally culpable throughout the state

    I read that the father of the child said it was an act of God....(shocking). I can understand that he is probably trying to find solace but why do we always have to blame God for everything in Nigeria? Although it has been said that the teacher didn't flog her rigorously but how do you know that the child did not come to school sick? That teacher must be made to go through the justice system to set an example.

    I do not know where she got trained (if she was trained), but effective learning does not spring from the use of corporal punishments and floggings. We await all stakeholders in the Ministry of Education in Anambra state where this incident took place to declare the state's law on this issue. I have many personal acquaintances who have horrific stories to tell about the effect of flogging on them. Our children can't keep learning under such barbaric tutelage.

    28/10/2012

    8-9 years in JSS 1 - violating JSS1 admission policy


    I read some shocking comments from stakeholders who  typically should be the ones ensuring that  policies are followed thoroughly.

    The national education policy stipulates that a pupil should complete his or her Basic Six at the primary school level before proceeding to the junior secondary school BUT an increasing number of parents are conniving with owners of some schools to violate the policy.

    Where do we get our ideas from? Read this comment from a school administrator. "The decision to allow a child to complete Basic Six class lay with the parent. If a child is mature enough to get into secondary school; the parents may go ahead. And if the child has successfully covered his entire syllabus at end of Basic Five, he should be allowed into secondary school".

    “What goes on in Basic Six class is revision and exam preparations.  However, if a child isn’t physically mature to enter secondary school after Basic Five, then the parents should allow him complete Basic Six.  Maturity is the key word here. I believe a child should be at least 10 years old before he or she can go to secondary school. One extra year would not harm the child. Rather, it would benefit the child".

    Dear ma, did you say 10 years old? I have seen 8-9 year olds entering secondary school just as you may have seen many of them too here in Nigeria. A few of them may fare well but their peers certainly catch up with them in the future. The curriculum researchers and developers understand that the implication of an age benchmark for entry into JSS 1 is key to achieving high results. No wonder the 'half-baked' scenario continues to thrive. 

    What does Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory teach us? Children between ages 7-11 are at a stage called the 'Industry vs Inferior'. It is at this stage that children are busily learning how to be competent or productive OR feel inferior and are unable to do anything. His next stage is the 'adolescent' stage which starts at 11 ( the age where secondary school should begin ). Erik called it the 'Identity vs Role Confusion', where questions such as 'Who am I?' begins to be asked. They establish sexual, ethnic and career identities OR are confused what role to play. You might say, 'but it is only a year or two earlier'- those years are crucial in growth. It could simply change a girls menstrual cycle and a boy's sexual orientation.

    So, why are those found guilty of these acts helping to breed confusion in their children instead of confidence through early forceful entry? It is so shameful that some parents are participating in forging birth certificates just to enter secondary school earlier? A child I know has 3 different ages, one she gives to her teachers, another to her classmates and then the real age to closer family ties! It won't be kind to expect her to be a truthful person in the future.

    You find that with the 'true' mature learner, the process of education is less stressful and better decisions are taken as a result of achieving a well adjusted social behavior alongside biological changes. I know that the younger a person was during my school age years, the higher their chances of being muddled up.

    It is a fact that a tiny percentage of human beings are geniuses and education policies are formed with a populace in mind. Learning isn't only a cognitive process; it is equally emotional, social, psychological and physical.

    25/10/2012

    Bullying in Schools - What can we do?


    One of the big questions that worries most parents are:  Are my children safe when they're not with me? The 'ALUU 4' killings happened as a result of the effect of an inherent 'bullying' tradition. Parents know that kids are often reluctant to tell them about bullying.  Consequently, many parents are finding it increasingly harder to know if their kids are safe and protected at school. How would you define bullying? What comes to mind immediately? Fighting, obtaining, slander, pushing, shoving, name calling, insulting, and taunting are some that resonates in the mind. Any type of physical or verbal harassment where the intent is to harm someone is considered bullying.

    According to Federal Ministry of Education (2007), since the last decade, several cases of violence against children such as torture, kidnapping, shooting, sexual harassment, rape, corporal punishment and so on have been reported in various newspapers, magazines and television stations all over the world. In Nigeria, even though cases of bullying had been reported in many schools, this deviant act is not always given any desirable attention. Furthermore, there are no available statistical facts to show the actual number of students that are bullied or victims in Nigerian schools. 


    Some myths about bullying include:
    • It’s part of life.
    • Boys will be boys.
    • It happens at all schools; don’t worry
    • Sticks and stones will hurt my bones but words will never harm me.
    • Bullying never did me any harm.
    • It’ll toughen you up.


    I don't accept any of the above. Some adults are scarred for life as a result of bullying. The fact remains that every child matters and one can never really know how bullying may affect a particular child.

    Here are some tips for school administrators and teachers that will help reduce the incidence of bullying.

    • Adopted anti-bullying programs.
    • Ensure the school has a trained counsellor/psychologist
    • Fill the school with posters and slogans
    • Create conflict resolution lessons as part of the curriculum
    • Invite guest speakers
    • Provide in-service training to all staff
    • Monitor hot spots around the school with appropriate student/teacher ratios (hallways, cafeteria, playground, parking lots, and buses.
    • Distribute policy statements to students and parents.
    • Seek parent involvement on committees
    • Conduct parent meetings.
    • Utilize student and parent surveys to gather data.
    • Document reported incidents.
    • Provide counseling support.
    • Involve parent organizations and the police department.
    • Review and evaluate everything.
    All of the above is as worthless only if the school has the leadership to make things happen. No one is going to care more about your child than her most important teacher, nurturer, and protector which is you.

    20/10/2012

    27 minutes of sleep and the trouble maker


    Twenty-seven minutes of sleep could be the difference between a quick tempered or cranky, distracted trouble-maker and a well-behaved student. According to an experimental study published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics, slightly increasing the amount of time children sleep results in improved alertness, impulse control, and emotional stability throughout the school day.

    "Even small changes in daily life that can allow children to add about a half hour of sleep could have a significant impact," said study author Reut Gruber, director of the attention behavior and sleep lab at the Douglas Institute in USA. "Extending sleep opens the door to an effective, feasible way to improve children's health and education.

    The study looked at 34 healthy students ages 7 to 11. For one week, half the students went to sleep earlier than usual, gaining, on average, 27 minutes of sleep. The other half of study participants pushed bedtime back, resulting in 54 minutes of sleep lost.

    Teachers then monitored the two groups of students noted “significant differences” in the behavior of the two sets of students. Well-rested children were found to be more attentive and in control of their emotions. Students who were sleep-deprived not only appeared tired, but they were also more likely to become frustrated, cry, or lose their tempers.

    A foundation in the United States of America called the National Sleep Foundation recommends children ages 5-12 sleep 10-11 hours each night.

    Are your kids getting enough sleep every night? I just recently began to crack down on bedtime routine. Are you dealing with bedtime routines properly? I suggest you do, now you know its effect on your child's education.

    If he is losing his temper, fighting incessantly, losing focusing and making a lot of mistakes; be sure that no 'spirit' has taken over him (lol). He may just need more sleep.

    18/10/2012

    Britain revises 'History' lessons while Nigeria removes 'History' lessons in secondary schools.


    I wrote a piece about the removal of History as a subject in our secondary schools. (see 'EDU-INFO: REALLY? NO MORE HISTORY!' in my older posts). I read this excerpt from The Daily Mail UK concerning Britain's education sector's plan for the subject we are neglecting.

    History lessons will be rewritten to include 200 key figures, such as Winston Churchill, and events which shaped Britain under a new national curriculum drawn up by education secretary Michael Gove. The current syllabus, previously attacked for being too politically correct, will be scrapped with the intention of giving children a deeper understanding of history.

    Under new plans school children will learn a narrative about British history and key international developments, including the fall of the Roman Empire, the union that created Britain and the decline of its power.

    Secondary school children aged between 11 and 14 will move on to 50 wider topics about the modern world, including Soviet-U.S. relations and how they shaped the world, as well as the influence of immigration on British society. Teachers' from the Prince's trust are saying that in history, for example, they do not see how you can have a good foundation of knowledge without understanding the chronology of events.’ 

    The current version of citizenship, which includes topics such as identities and diversity and how to negotiate, plan and take action has been cut back from 29 pages to one for 11 to 14-year-olds.The new syllabus will focus on the British monarchy and parliamentary democracy as well as theories on liberty and rights.

    In geography, primary children will study physical features, the nature of rocks, rivers and mountains, the names of countries and the characteristics of countries as well as how glaciers shape landscapes. Later on in secondary school the topics will become more specific, including aspects of human geography, like the industrial expansion of Asia.

    This follows criticisms of the current curriculum for failing to ensure children learn about human and physical processed which shape geography.

    Does this surprise you? If History is being revised to better suit the students by countries such as Britain whose educational standard is not to be compared with ours, then it's relevance cannot be overemphasized. What could have informed the decision to remove History as a subject in secondary school? I wonder which way we are going. 

    15/10/2012

    Curriculum Chaos --- The students get confused


    Just as the world has become more sophisticated in other spheres; so has significant changes taken place in education management. Insufficient time to adapt to the changes confuses the educators. Sometimes they try to do the right things in a wrong way. Even educators who are open to change are uncertain about what kind of changes will be most effective and how best to go about making them. Frustration and despondency abound as well as the sense that "we're already doing so much - how can we possibly do more".

    Curriculum improvement is an ongoing international trend that mirrors changes in the society and teaching methodology. I believe that a move to an ‘outcome-based education’ is imperative but it will present Nigerian educators with a challenging and significant ‘paradigm–shift’.

    Some of the new curriculum introduced these days have become quite chaotic and too hard for children and even teachers. Just because some curriculum is applied in one school, another school is quick to copy it without understanding how it's used, when to use it and its relevance. The inconsistency of curriculum choices made by the school leaves the students more confused as they go. Today, it's the British curriculum, tomorrow, its Nigerian and next it is the American....chaotic, isn't it?. A holistic approach is ideal in designing curriculum but it MUST be generally consistent even when introducing modifications. 

    A good curriculum has many distinct features but if your curriculum embodies the following, then you are off to a good start! 

    • promotes interactive learning and encourage the construction of knowledge
    • encourages active learning
    • fosters exploration and inquiry, rather than focusing on “right” answers or “right” ways to complete a task.
    • encourages development of positive feelings and dispositions toward learning while leading to acquisition of knowledge and skills
    • helps achieve social, emotional, physical, and cognitive goals and promotes sustainable relevance to our core cultural values.
    • promotes and encourages proper social interaction
    If not, you have so much more to consider. Build a curriculum that leaves room for modification because education is evolving in nature. Consistency should be a key element so that it does not lead to confusion among the learners. A confused learner can easily translate to a frustrated learner.





    13/10/2012

    TELL-A-VISION - The 'Nicki Minaj' and company influence

    Am I repeating the TV issue? I guess I just can't help it! The nudity I see in music videos these days.....I cannot shout! How about the 'kissing' and 'love scenes' in some cartoons?

    A close friend of mine (a style/image consultant) in Canada recently wrote a paper on the influence of television on children and youths of today. 'TELL A VISION' she termed it, there is more to come from her. 

    You see, what we watch directly influences us; it could breed unwanted thoughts and desires unknowingly. The media has influenced self-identity and even caused vulnerabilities and some shameful youthful exuberances! 


    My friend said that our ontology (the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being), has been influenced by the technological lens. This is true. Girls, are you aware that some of these experiences have gender bias? Watch all the music videos, young girls get exposed for sexual desires and men are meant to sit back and enjoy the view? It is very embarassing and quite sad! This has contributed to the downward slope of gender equality and discrimination. Many teenage women have interesting role models - the Nicki Minajs,  Rihannas, Lady Gagas etc of this world! Don't get me wrong, they are talented artistes but the image they render in the delicate minds of our youth is my focus.


    The sense of style, nudity and sexual innuendos created in the mind of our children/youth undermine the education and opportunities other 'exemplary' role models present. Young boys aspiring to look like rap stars; dragging and sagging pants,  using slurred speeches, wearing unbefitting jewellery etc. - this magic world of the Internet and TV screens is changing our children's lives much more than it should.

    I could go on and on but what we must do is to protect our children so they can tell-a-good-vision! The 'Nicki Minaj persona' shouldn't dictate the culture of our tomorrow's youth.

    08/10/2012

    Myth buster: Am I stuck with the same IQ all my life? NO!


    Many people think of IQ as a genetic trait like eye color, something you're born with and stuck with for life.....? But mounting evidence is shedding a different light.
    A growing body of research is showing that a person's IQ can rise—and even fall—over the years and through an individual's lifetime.

    IQ or intelligence quotient is a score that is supposed to quantify your level of intelligence. I read that what defines intelligence is still up for debate - that a predetermined IQ isn't necessarily an accurate measurement. But it has been long assumed that our scores do not change; that we are stuck with the intelligence we were born with. Well, it is not true.

    "[Some] assert that an individual's intelligence is a fixed quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism."
    - Alfred Binet, inventor of the original IQ test, 1909


    Fola (name changed) is a child I have taught for 2 years. She has always been  a 'weak' student. She found it quite difficult to assimilate lessons taught across all subjects. All teachers had the same to say about her situation. Upon enquiry, I discovered that she wasn't followed up and made to study as much as she should have, because her grades had been consistently low. She definitely needed more lesson time. After a whole session had passed, changes were made to study habits and we saw a significantly higher percentage of improvement. One that made her not to re-do the year again.


    One study shows changes in IQ after just a few weeks of effort. 33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 - 16 and again about 4 years later, 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores. These changes were not due to measuring errors because the MRI's showed changes in gray matter which is linked to IQ. Am I surprised? No! We, the teachers see improvements daily especially when extra efforts are put in.

    It was found that people with a lower IQ (between 75-90 range) are usually at a risk of dropping out of secondary school while those with a higher IQ possibly attain higher social intelligence.  There is a need to help the 'weaker' kids to improve scores AND those who are average can be supported to also achieve higher scores. Nigeria is in dire need for a lot more intellectuals in many fields of interest; so we have to 'up' our efforts to reduce student dropout ratios and produce more graduands.

    We are not stuck with any level of IQ! Since IQ can change, there seems to be no harm in helping your child to boost their scores through changes in study patten and improved practice time. Being branded with a low IQ at a young age, in other words, is like being born poor. Due to family circumstances and the mechanisms of society, most people born poor will remain poor throughout their lives. But that doesn't mean anyone is *innately* poor or destined to be poor; there is always potential for any poor person to become rich. 

    The exciting reality is that IQ scores:
    • measure developed skills, not native intelligence.
    • can change dramatically.
    • say nothing about a person's intellectual limits.

    05/10/2012

    WORLD'S TEACHERS' DAY


    To all the wonderful Teachers spread across the globe, I say HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY to you all! Your efforts in grooming the world is celebrated today every year. I am extremely proud to be part of this celebration.

    World Teachers' Day, held annually on October 5th since 1994, commemorates teachers’ organizations worldwide. Its aim is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
    According to UNESCO, World Teachers' Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.

    To all true teachers' and my future 'CELEBUTORS', this is for you.

    A Teacher for All Seasons

    A teacher is like Spring,
    Who nurtures new green sprouts,
    Encourages and leads them,
    Whenever they have doubts.
    A teacher is like Summer,
    Whose sunny temperament
    Makes studying a pleasure,
    Preventing discontent.
    A teacher is like Fall,
    With methods crisp and clear,
    Lessons of bright colors
    And a happy atmosphere.
    A teacher is like Winter,
    While it's snowing hard outside,
    Keeping students comfortable,
    As a warm and helpful guide.
    Teacher, you do all these things,
    With a pleasant attitude;
    You're a teacher for all seasons,
    And you have my gratitude!

    By Joanna Fuchs