How be­com­ing a teacher by de­fault af­fects our learn­ers?

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES - The Im­por­tance of Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion The teach­ing pro­fes­sion is not taken se­ri­ously

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the ac­qui­si­tion of knowl­edge and knowl­edge trans­fer

When I started out as an ed­u­ca­tor about a decade ago I only had a Chem­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion as well as min­i­mal and in­for­mal teach­ing skills at my dis­posal.

How­ever I found my­self faced with the in­tim­i­dat­ing task of de­liv­er­ing ed­u­ca­tional con­tent to learn­ers with­out any for­mal train­ing on the dex­ter­ity of teach­ing and learn­ing. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wealth of knowl­edge as an en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gist but the pri­mary ob­jec­tive of my qual­i­fi­ca­tion was to equip me with tech­ni­cal skills that grav­i­tated to­wards in­dus­trial prac­tice and not academia. Be­cause at that point in time I hadn’t un­der­gone any for­mal train­ing re­lated to the art of imparting knowl­edge to the next per­son and the skill of craft­ing tan­gi­ble as­sess­ments, I was bound to lack in this area.

Many if any of my fel­low col­leagues over­looked the im­por­tance of pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in ed­u­ca­tion. For many years I ren­dered lec­tures at univer­sity in a hap­haz­ard fash­ion with the reliance of meth­ods used by my pre­vi­ous ed­u­ca­tors at el­e­men­tary and se­nior lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion. Lit­tle did I know, I was mak­ing a lot of mis­takes just like many pro­fes­sors, doc­tors, ju­nior lec­tur­ers, and other ed­u­ca­tors in both ba­sic and higher ed­u­ca­tion ranks?

A few years ago I de­cided to en­roll for a post­grad­u­ate diploma in higher ed­u­ca­tion (PGDHE) and that’s when the sud­den re­al­ity of my ig­no­rance on teach­ing was brought to light. I was highly knowl­edge­able how­ever I re­al­ized my ped­a­gogy (Teach­ing Prac­tice) was highly in­clined on spec­u­la­tive and ran­dom ap­proaches. The teach­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion gave me the agility and di­rec­tion to con­duct my lec­tures ob­jec­tively and in an or­ga­nized man­ner.

Skills of sub­ject de­liv­ery

On many oc­ca­sions I have wit­nessed ed­u­ca­tors take up on a lec­tures with ques­tion­able de­liv­ery meth­ods. They con­fi­dently ap­ply th­ese du­bi­ous teach­ing meth­ods for the en­tire du­ra­tion of the se­mes­ter with­out be­ing held to ac­count. I mean how can you cor­rect a prob­lem if you cant iden­tify and ac­knowl- edge its ex­is­tence. Un­der­stand­ing a con­cept is one thing but imparting the knowl­edge to the next per­son is never a walk in the park. Its highly im­por­tant that we rec­og­nize the role of Teacher train­ing col­leges be­cause they pro­vide ed­u­ca­tors with the much needed skills that de­fine the trade teach­ing and learn­ing.

Lack of em­ploy­ment prospects

Quite a num­ber of qual­i­fied per­son­nel from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines find them­selves set­tling for the teach­ing pro­fes­sion. This has been a grow­ing trend for the past twenty years, due to the short­age of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties many find them­selves trapped in fore­front of the class­room play­ing ‘ed­u­ca­tor’. Most of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als who are in­ad­ver­tently swal­lowed by the world of teach­ing and learn­ing are not pas­sion­ate with this pro­fes­sional field and the learn­ers get to bear the brunt of be­ing taught by peo­ple who be­came ed­u­ca­tors by de­fault.

Dan­gers of em­ploy­ing in­di­vid­u­als who don’t qual­ify as pro­fes­sional teach­ers or ed­u­ca­tors

It is not un­com­mon to hear a teacher or a lec­turer minc­ing bit­ter state­ments to the learn­ers like ‘I am do­ing you a favour I at­tained my cer­tifi­cate a long time ago, so please stop wast­ing my time’.

Such be­hav­ior is un­called for since the learner in ques­tion can­not com­pete with the ed­u­ca­tor and such be­hav- ior can be viewed as an el­e­ment of ageism. Em­ploy­ing this kind of in­di­vid­u­als does not auger well for any ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion since bit­ter em­ploy­ees bring with them neg­a­tive en­ergy which later re­flects on the learn­ers. Many ed­u­ca­tors have a hand in break­ing learner’s dreams es­pe­cially at el­e­men­tary level where the mind of the learner is still frag­ile.

Com­plain­ing is the daily bread of those who be­came ed­u­ca­tors by de­fault

Com­plain­ing doesn’t re­quire one to be a hard worker or pos­sess highly spe­cial­ized knowl­edge to put it into ef­fect how­ever the main in­gre­di­ents are: lack of re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity, shift­ing the blame and the need for crit­i­cism is all that is needed to ex­pe­dite end­less com­plaints. At any given mo­ment you will have com­plainants amongst you in so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious and pro­fes­sional cir­cles

There are quite a num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als who fear com­plain­ing in the open how­ever they tend to do it be­hind closed doors and in the ab­sence of those the com­plaint is aimed at.

In ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ments com­plain­ing is the or­der of the day, rang­ing from stu­dents who com­plain about their ed­u­ca­tors to the ed­u­ca­tors com­plain­ing about man­age­ment and those in the ech­e­lon of author­ity in ed­u­ca­tional set­tings.

In many oc­ca­sions com­plain­ing is per­pe­trated by de­fault ed­u­ca­tors. A few if any come up with tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions to help coun­ter­act the prob­lems at hand how­ever ev­ery­one has some­one to blame at any given point in time es­pe­cially when prob­lems sur­face. It seems like many have mas­tered the art of com­plain­ing and point­ing fin­gers at the di­rec­tion of those who are seen as un­pro­duc­tive. Our de­fault ed­u­ca­tors al­ways point fin­gers to the di­rec­tion of stu­dents when­ever the come short in aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties, this is seen in cases of poor pass rate amongst learn­ers.

Ed­u­ca­tors are the back­bone of our eco­nomic set­ting there­fore the pro­fes­sion it­self should be taken se­ri­ously. In my own opin­ion­ated view I feel like those tasked with ed­u­cat­ing fu­ture en­gi­neers, ac­coun­tants, doc­tors, pi­lots and other work­ing pro­fes­sion­als are nor­mally un­der­mined.

The con­de­scend­ing treat­ment stems out from the fact that most ed­u­ca­tors es­pe­cially at el­e­men­tary and se­condary lev­els put up with mea­gre salaries and re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­ages that are not payslip- wor­thy. There­fore the hos­til­ity and low en­ergy lev­els dis­played by some ed­u­ca­tors in lec­ture halls can be at­trib­uted to such un­be­com­ing treat­ment.

The fact that ev­ery­one who has a first de­gree, re­gard­less of whether they pos­sess pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, can be em­ployed as a teacher is cause for con­cern and has dire im­pli­ca­tions.

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