by Yemi Showunmi
It is a great honour to welcome you all to this August occasion. Parents, Teachers, Guests, Visitors and all other protocols duly observed, let me start by stating the obvious ; God has blessed us with wonderful pupils in this school. As we thank God, we also thank our parents for making the job easier with their support. On our own part we are reassuring you of our commitment to grooming today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Distinguished guests present, permit me to share something I consider very important about raising children by starting with my own life.
About 18 years ago I got my first job as a teacher in a school I once attended as a boy. Despite our familiarity, my employer would want me to tell a story as job interview. The decision to adopt the storytelling model was to judge my competence in communicating ideas. What I learnt that day at the interview, as I continue to do everyday of my life, is simply the value of sharing information in everyday living and learning.
We all know that children always want to know things. Mummy what is this? Where does rainwater go? Daddy, what is the meaning of APC? Auntie, how did you get the x in this equation? Every time, they ask us questions that present us with opportunities to make indelible impacts on their growing mind. But we blow these chances many times. Or what do we tell them many times when their questions won’t stop?
If only we understand the extent of damage our attitudes do to their naive mind but we care less because they don’t bruise like their bodies do.
Believe me, they have big dreams with plenty questions. They always want to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, pilots and so on. We also want it for them too. But wishes are not horses, those careers need learning to achieve.
Learning comes in three forms like the tripod of our big moma’s cooking pot. They can be formal, informal and role learning. We as teachers and the schools as a whole render formal education which comes in subjects as Mathematics, English, and so on. Informal learning is more on skill training and acquisitions. The third and most important is role learning.
Role learning is like a dog teaching a puppy how to bark or mother eagle teaching the little eaglet how to fly. Role learning is the “awo koshe” of habits. It is about living by examples. Children pick habits very fast. From obsession with African Magic to dancing the latest Olamide hit singles or throwing baddo slangs or chanting “up Chelsea!” when they see someone wearing the club jersey. Everything is well recorded in their mind.
Research says that children are learning something every time. 24 hours make one day. The 24 hours in a day are often divided into three. The first eight hours is for sleep. The next eight hours is for school and the remaining eight hours for other activities as eating, bathing, playing, etc The eight hours of school is for us as teachers to co-ordinate while the remaining two eights hours get spent under the watch of parents.
If we use our eight hours to impress good values and purposeful learning but the remaining 16 hours outside school is not properly engaged, the child suffers. Parents should see children like paintings where details is an important skill. If we draw everything well without attaching a nose, the portrait becomes disfigured even with expensive paints and canvas.
So true is the maxim that a beautiful school doesn’t make great pupils, rather, they are made by fine learning. Neither does a good building make a wonderful home. Without quality training, all these assets are only a bunch of liabilities waiting to be squandered with the passage of time. And there is no good home training or school learning that is short of sharing information. It is as important as Intelligence gathering to any battle.
And it all starts with observation.
“Mummy Johnny, I noticed your son sleeps too much in class. Please help us make sure he goes to bed early enough. Thank you”
“Auntie Benie, please can you change Junior’s seat for me? He can hardly see well from a far distance.”
As little as those observations are, they can change the stories of dull or struggling children forever. In fact, observations can go a step further leading to recommending and redesigning situations.
“Ma’am I suggest you let him learn to play an instrument during holidays. I notice he spends most of his break period pinned to the wall playing an imaginary guitar.” Few years later he is a John Butler or our own Beautiful Nubia.
“Your daughter took part in a debate in school. She is very eloquent. Don’t you think she would do well to pursue a career in broadcasting?” Few years later, she’s another Aisha Sesay of CNN or Jumoke Alao debating on TVC’s YourView
This talkative boy can become a Gani Fawehinmi tomorrow; That gentle boy solving mathematics like crazy may become a Wall Street Whiz kid tomorrow. The best time to set them on this path is when they are very young.
In closing, let me restate that if we as parents and teachers join hands together, partnering on vital information sharing then my mission is accomplished. In fact, if this is the only takeaway amidst all the pomp and pageantry of this whole event then we have really taken much- plenty enough to feed our souls and that of our little ones that we gather here today to celebrate. That way we have set the mark for greatness in them.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Oluyemi Showunmi(@yemisluv) is a teacher and education consultant. He is the founder and director of Excellent Breakthrough Academy ; a school reputable for grooming today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders. This speech was given at the school’s end-of-session event, 2016.