Recently I shared an interesting view on lessons from a 2009 movie 3 Idiots (read here). In continuance, I want to talk about the roles and importance of teachers. These roles I consider a part of their job most are ignorant about or blatantly neglecting.
A popular saying goes “there are many ways to catch a rat”, which implies there is no one universal formula to success – in this case, no universal formula to the success of a student. While some may excel with little supervision, others need strong supervision and accountable authority to perform well. I happen to fall into the latter category.
I will be sharing a personal story with the aim to highlight these roles and importance.
I was transferred from a secondary school in Lagos to Warri in SSS1, from day to boarding school. I must confess the transition was hard for me. My second week in boarding house, one of my seniors walked up to me and said “You are going to repeat SSS1”. (He saw me lying in bed at 9pm). Unfortunately, he was right! I set all sorts of personal records in most subjects except English – 11% in mathematics, 8% in literature, yes that type of record!
By the time I was repeating SSS1, I had learned a lot, matured a little and adapted to the new environment but my turning point was my encounter and journey with two teachers; my guardian/handler and my maths lesson teacher.
My handler had my back as though her life depended on it, you would have sworn she was my mom with all the attention especially as I was not a “bright student”. Early days with her was tough though, she punished me when I made minor mistakes but supported me when I made a major one. This confused me for a while!
I was always in one trouble or the other back then and if she ever found out, she would lead the punishment team, embarrass me in class if need be. Truthfully, I felt humiliated. Then I got expelled from hostel in SSS3, this time I knew I had made a major error. This time I understood the implication of my actions as I packed my bags and walked out the hostel, students staring as if they had seen a ghost. I called my dad and apologized to him.
My handler took over the situation. Matter of fact, she led my cause to have my expulsion overturned to one term’s suspension and she signed on my behalf that I would be of good behaviour when I returned. Through all this, I do not remember her screaming at me. In retrospect, I think I have an idea why.
When you make big mistakes, you do not need condemnation because even you realize your mistake…it is obvious! However, those “insignificant” ones if unchecked has potential to shape you for life. Today’s thief did not wake up with the skill one morning!
THE GAME CHANGER
My maths lesson teacher was the best! He could teach anyone on earth maths and there would be an astronomical improvement…ANYONE! I started after school lessons with him and my love for maths skyrocketed. I was studying maths every night at prep. Improvements were unbelievable such that my then maths teacher accused me of cheating on my exams! When WAEC came, an A was inevitable.
However, that was not even his best attribute; it was his non-judgmental attitude that helped most of us that put in some effort. There was no favouritism for the brightest student or condemnation for the least brightest. Everyone got same attention.
I speak to everyone the same way, whether he is the garbage man or university president – Albert Einstein
I studied Economics in the university because I was pretty good at mathematics-same mathematics I started out failing. I would not have if not for my mathematics teacher. More importantly, I might have turned out worse, maybe never finished school if not for my awesome guardian. I am forever indebted to these two people. I am not where I want to be yet, but watch out for me!
I really want to talk about my literature and government teachers and how they negatively influenced my decision to not study law, just to give a flip side perspective to the examples cited in this article…maybe I will share that story next time
In conclusion, teaching is an art not just a mere job, if you are not cut out for it, do not dabble into it, it is wicked to experiment on someone’s future. You can make or mar a student’s career just by how you treat or talk to them. Never misuse such power.