In light of the recent and ongoing pandemic, many have begun to re-evaluate the place of many professions in today’s world. Many are beginning to examine the importance of certain fields of knowledge to the new world that is beginning to emerge in light of recent happenings. For so many professions, it was a time to re-strategize and remake their profession suit the immediate needs of the changing world.
This does not leave the teaching profession out of such quests and examination. Teachers have begun to find new methods/ways of teaching and students have begun to adapt to new modes of instruction. Teachers are now beginning to do more online than in-person classes. Though the effectiveness of these methods is still being debated across many spaces and discourse, one thing is certain, the teaching profession can never be irrelevant. More than ever, its importance is more glaring. Teachers are social change agents. They are equipped with skills to break down the complex into simple and help their students navigate the unchartered waters of the world.
With the recent protests of racism through The Black Lives Matter Movement and many other organisations, many are beginning to realise more than ever that re-education and re-orientation are what we need to heal the divides in the society. Many have said that the bulk of the work lies in the school system. So, with whatever method or mode of instruction the teacher chooses, his voice is important. He/she is part of the system that can re-engineer society for the better.
In Nigeria, where injustice, corruption, and all manner of social vices are the order of the day, it has been said that the major change will come from the school system. I see the school system as a quarry where young children are moulded and taken to society to fit in properly to the overall building. With the increase in all of these vices, I see teachers as frontline workers who take the children into the classroom and instill values that can shape them to be better citizens.
That is why more than ever, I advocate for a system and curriculum that is value-based and value-driven such that for every subject and course developed, the teacher can ask, what value do I intend to instill in my students. As a literature teacher, this has formed the basis for my teaching because I understand beyond the superficial definition of literature being a mirror of society, I see it as a means of correcting and building society. For every book that is recommended and read, I strive to teach values.
To the teacher reading this, you must understand deeply your role in society and I beg you not to take it for granted. You are a frontline worker. Before the malaise gets out there, treat it in your classroom. Re-evaluate your subjects and see how it transcends beyond mechanics, conventions, and stereotypes. Look for ways in which you can be instrumental in creating the future we desire to see in the society because we are the movers and builders of this generation and the future ones yet unborn.
Happy World Teachers’ Day!