An ever shouting and restless teacher who always harangues her class will infect the children with these negative traits. To children, teachers are semi-gods who ought to be obeyed and emulated. Children that are forever shouted at will shout at others to get on daily. They will become aggressive adults. Have you noticed how much harsh words flow freely from our lips these days? It’s appalling. The boss at work, the bus conductor, the market-sellers, stressed up parents, clerks in offices who are forever expecting, traffic wardens, policemen and soldiers at checkpoints, everyone talks harshly. Car engines are shouting, horns are hooting these days too. What with the harsh petrol scarcities coupled with the third or fourth hand spare parts transporters have to work with.
This country must change for the better. This change must not only be in terms of a better standard of living for the average Nigerian, but change also in terms of content and manner of our discourse with one another. Our speech should always be seasoned with grace, with good will and with encouragement. I admire and have emulated a good trait in the British – this is politeness. The expressions: yes, please; thank you, beg your pardon, mind if I, excuse me, and the like are utterances I hear from them daily and I observe too that these are not said to colleagues only but also to the children as the need arises.
Fellow teachers, we have these children in our care for at least five hours daily. Let’s drill politeness into them. In our Nigerian cultures, we have the legacy of polite expressions. The Yorubas for instance, have the word which not only is a plural pronoun referring to more than one person but can be used to address and indeed should be used to address anyone irrespective of age or affluence. All these, I’m afraid, are fast disappearing. Can you beat the rudeness of the primary six child a while ago who dared me to send him to the quiet room in isolation (the naughty corner)?
I had told him that he’d have to go into the quiet room if he continued to make distracting and rude noises with the latches of his locker during my lesson. Our headmistress then, I remembered clearly, was stunned but handled the situation like the teacher that she was. Here was a lanky boy, from a rich home, who, from his childhood, displayed disrespect for authority. On the other hand, I was grateful for the incidence because it was yet another opportunity to understand the child better. He was most probably from a home that flowed with milk and honey where nannies, cooks and drivers were plummeted with orders and threats from master and madam or either of the two and where their namby-pamby children must not be disciplined by teacher.
The Ancient Truth says “train your child and he shall give you rest.” Mind you, I do not at all mean to hit with the cane, as they are not animals, but rather I am for discipline which sets out to instruct, teach by words and actions, deprive if that would pass on the lesson to be learnt and reward immediately any good behaviour.
Omoru writes from the UK