- December 22, 2014
- Posted by: itmanager
- Category: Speeches
TEACHING AND TEACHING METHODS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
-BEING THE TEXT OF A PAPER PRESENTED BY AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR,CON,SAN AT A SEMINAR HELD ON SATURDAY 8TH JANUARY, 2011 AT AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO-EKITI
Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to this important seminar, the purpose of which is to examine teaching and teaching methods in our universities. Whichever way you look at it, this workshop is unique. In all my years in University administration, I am not aware of a similar workshop designed solely to study and examine teaching and teaching methods. The reasons are that the ordinary Nigerian takes it for granted that teaching is a job for any Tom, Dick and Harry as long as he is employed to teach. Secondly, people believe that teaching does not require special skills or training before one can embark on it.
WHAT IS TEACHING?
Teaching is a vocation. It is a noble profession like Medicine and Law. It ought and should be engaged in only by those with a special call, who want to impart knowledge to others on the sole ground that they are happy doing so and because they think that they have a special interest or ability to do so.
Teachers from time immemorial had always enjoyed a lot of respect. From the ancient times including Greeco-Roman era and throughout the dark ages and the middle ages, teachers were highly rated in the Society. A classic example is the biblical example like Paul. Teachers had always been the envy of other professionals and the society at large. That was also the position in Nigeria until early 80’s.
Our teachers in the years gone by had always been very well respected. They were mutatis mutandis God on earth. Those of us who attended schools in those days believed that teachers were something more than human being. Our parents also saw teachers as special human beings. In fact, we the students ran away from them, we avoided them at every possibility of contact. Most of us in those days would not believe that they had normal human experiences of urinating or defecating. Parents used to frighten stubborn children by telling them that their teacher was around the corner.
When the University College, Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan) was established, most educationally gifted students wanted to become professors. Lecturers received the first mention in the society before any other person. They had enormous dignity and aura that surrounded them. They were well remunerated. This was at a time when the Naira was a very proud currency and its value was enviable amongst its peers. University teachers were as comfortable and respected as their contemporaries abroad until the Naira lost its value and they became the butts of jests and jokes, such that in Nigeria today they are despised by the ordinary lady in the street who regard more highly, lawyers and doctors, and even the local government councilor, than the lecturer.
I was a teacher, and I am proud to say that any day, any time. I rose from the post of an infant pupil teacher to secondary school teacher where I rose to the post of the Vice Principal of a Secondary School before I became a lawyer. Even when I had established a name as a legal practitioner, I still taught students at the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies and Master’s Degree class at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. The truth is that I love teaching, and I have also come to realize that a good teacher also makes a good lawyer. A teacher learns how to teach others and therefore knows how to teach himself.
METHODS OF TEACHING
From time immemorial, teachers were known to have adopted different methods of teaching. The following methods which are by no means exhaustive had been and are still in use.
- Teacher-Centered Method
The commonest and the most-popular method of teaching is where the teacher comes to class whether at the elementary school or the university, with a prepared note. At the tertiary school especially, the students take notes as dictated by his lecturers in class. This system is what is called the teacher-centered method of classroom teaching.
- Student-Centered Method
The student-centered method is the one in which the teacher serves as the facilitator. It is a method by which the teacher finds out what the students know and after that, what they want to know.
- The Chorus or Repetitive Method
This is common in infant schools, Quaran Schools and music classes. The teacher utters a sentence, a clause or a verse and asks the students to repeat after him usually several times. Some lecturers at College or University level sometimes indulge in chorus system in the course of a lecture. Similarly, some priests also ask their members to repeat what they say after them.
- The Clinical Teaching Method
There is also the clinical teaching method. This method combines the different teaching methods to engage students on a particular subject. The teacher gives the students reading lists and materials at the beginning of the class or even the semester. He thereafter gives the students specific academic problems and demands them to use the information and materials already supplied to them to find appropriate solutions.
The students go back and read and come back later to form groups – large and small groups-where they discuss their problems and find solutions to them. They later prepare their notes, drawing sources from their texts and shared knowledge from the group discussions.
HOW TO BE A GOOD TEACHER
Who is a good teacher or who is a bad teacher? There are good, average and bad teachers. It is not everybody that holds School Certificate or University degree that is ipso facto a good teacher. In the colonial days, teachers were categorized as CD, C, CA and A. Colleges were established for the training of teachers.
- Know yourself: The teacher must know himself. There are fast-talking teachers, slow-talking teachers, stammerers, audible and inaudible teachers, temperamental teachers, lively, charismatic, approachable, introvert, extrovert, pleasant, quarrelsome and a host of others. Each person, has his own peculiar characteristics and attributes. A good teacher should know first which attributes and or deficiencies he has. It is only then that he will know in what ways to exploit the virtues to proper advantage in the performance of his duties or how to overcome his inadequacies.
- Know your students: A good teacher must know his students, possibly by name. Most students, if not all, will be happy if the teacher knows their names and calls them by those names. A student who is called by his name forms the right impression that he is an integral part of the class and that he matters to the lecturer.
- Know the ability (or I.Q) of each student: The teacher must know those who are brilliant, those who are not so brilliant, and those who are dull among his students. This knowledge will help in knowing how to help each student and especially those on whom to focus more attention. This will lead to grouping of the students based on an assessment of their ability (or intelligence).
- Know the subject matter: Apart from his own learning, the teacher must have a good knowledge of the subject-matter and must know a bit of every subject or most subjects under the sun. To acquire this, he must do his research very well before going to class. He must properly educate himself. He must always have it at the back of his mind that there are among his students those who are intellectually endowed and who may be well ahead of the teacher himself. He must know that we are living in the world of computer and internet. Unless the teacher is current therefore, he may discover not only that some of the students are well ahead of him through research or the use of internet but that he has embarrassed or ridiculed himself by his inadequate or obsolete knowledge. Through the evaluation we have carried out in ABUAD, there are cases where students alleged that their teacher was not knowledgeable enough.
- Prior preparation: A good teacher must prepare the power points of what he wants to teach the students. This will help him to have a sharp focus.
- Prepare the power-points for the class and the College Provost who may inspect it any time. This is what in ordinary language is called notes of lesson.
- Communication: A good teacher must appreciate that his primary duty is to impart knowledge. This means that you must be able to communicate with the students properly. The best teacher communicates in very simple English. The best way is to communicate in short sentences instead of winding compound sentences and or bombastic English designed to impress the students.
- Stimulating Interest: A teacher’s delivery of his lessons must be interesting. There are many ways of invoking the students’ interest and a good teacher must know and employ these. A good teacher must also make the lesson interesting and lively through the use of analogy and stories, live cases and apposite practical examples.
- Interaction and Participation: There must be interaction during the course of teaching or else the students will lose interest with their mind straying elsewhere. Although they are physically present, yet their minds are not with you. A teacher who teaches a non-listening student is wasting his time.
Active participation of the students in the teaching and learning process will arouse their interest and sustain it. A good teacher must keep observing the students to see whether he is carrying them along. He must ask questions from persons who seem not to be attentive. All others will be forced to pay attention.
THE ABUAD SYSTEM
ABUAD’s objective is to reform education and lead in quality education. It is a notorious fact that our degrees are derided by other countries. One of the many reasons is the poor quality of teaching. In order to achieve our objective, we must standardize the method of teaching in this University.
It is for this reason that we have selected our teachers who are some of the best materials in the country. I do not pretend to nor do I claim that I know as much as they do, but I believe that a seminar of this type and cross fertilization of ideas can bring about the improvement in our method of teaching. I believe in learning.
It is appropriate to repeat what I said in my book ‘Impossibility Made Possible’,
“A man is dead the moment he can no longer learn and imbibe new ideas and respond adequately to new conditions. It is vitally important that we all exhibit a positive disposition towards learning.”
I believe that at the end of the day we would learn something that can make us improve our knowledge of teaching.
As stated earlier, there are many methods of teaching or imparting knowledge. It seems to me that there is no one method that can be described as the teaching method applicable on all occasions regardless of the age of students and the subject.
The type of teaching method that is appropriate for a particular subject depends on the age of the development level of the students, what the students already know, what they need to know – the subject matter, the available time, space, materials available and the physical environment.
The system I wish to suggest for ABUAD teachers is one that combines different teaching styles to ensure full participation of students, engage in research and maximum understanding of the subject. Our approach should be a combination of all the known methods which I wish to describe as ABUAD System.
- Give students reading list and materials at the beginning of the semester.
- For every lesson, the teacher must read and do his research. We are in the age of internet. There are some students who wish to show that they are as good or even better than the teacher who may ask questions about what they have read and merely want to test the teacher by asking questions on what he has discussed but which they believe the teacher does not know. Recently, a student in his evaluation report said that his teacher is not knowledgeable.
- The lecturer must prepare in advance notes of lesson at the beginning of every session. The note of lesson must contain power points. The power points are good for students in making notes but more importantly, in remembering the vital points in the lecture.
- The teacher must proceed from known to unknown. It will be easier for students to follow when they have a fair idea of what is to be done or what is being done.
- As the lesson progresses, there should be questions and discussion. This is important because in traditional method of teaching many students are only present in the class but their minds are elsewhere. Most are passive throughout. When an observant teacher notices that some students are not lively or not showing interest, he should direct a question to such student. This is why it is important to know names of students.
- Throughout the lecture, the lecturer must evoke and sustain the interest of the students. He should make the lesson lively, give analogies, stories, jokes and live examples.
- In modern times, the teacher may use video tapes or interactive board which we have in each class.
- At the end of the lesson, the students should be given reference books for research and give a date for class discussion.
- Report-back Session/Class Discussion: This is known as discovery session where students come up with additional information and discovery. This discovery session is very important. Each student is happy to come up with something new. Credit should be given by the teacher to the best student.
- Group Discussion: The teacher should encourage group discussion after the discovery session. The student is now ready and well equipped to write a comprehensive note on the topic. At the end, the dullest student is well informed and trained in the subject.
- The above may look too elaborate and or cumbersome. But time has come to revive reading culture. After some practices, you and the students will find that the procedures stated above are easy. As a good teacher, you will take pride and joy in that you have turned out quality graduates.
- Assignment: The teacher should always give assignment to the students which the teacher must assess.
Ladies and gentlemen, the above is the view of a layman. You cannot find most of my submissions in any book. Knowledge is derived from what one has done, he is doing, he hears, he reads, he sees and the experience of others. I do not pretend to know everything but I know something about everything. My submission is not intended to compete with or rival the submission of the learned professors who will talk after me but if in your wisdom you find all or part of my submission useful, please let us adopt it as part of the teaching method that could make ABUAD different in its crusade for reformation of education in Nigeria.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR,CON,SAN