Teacher’s Diary: Listen Up Please

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“Teachers, pupils and students will ‘teach’ you, if you let them.” “Parents, your children will teach you, if you let them.” So long as it’s teaching on the pedagogic level, many teachers in Nigeria affectionately and ‘nurturingly’ refer to their students as their ‘children’ or their ‘class’. Therefore I’d use these two terms all through this post.

A colleague, Jay, walked in recently and embarrassingly recounted how her eight-year-old daughter, Abi, had just successfully taken over her motherly role as the comforter, stress-buster and conflict-resolver. It so happened that she’d been involved in a road rage situation where a younger female driver had refused to give way to her to as she approached a T-junction. This offending driver went on to make a left turn, refused to speed up sufficiently thereby forced my colleague to slow down to a crawl behind this naughty driver in what seemed to be forever.

Jay said she went hysterical on the wheels and bellowed all forms of obscenities that road users say when other drivers act unfairly. Abi who was sat at the back, simply leaned forward as far as her child restraints would allow her, cupped Jay’s shoulder and repeatedly said, “That’s okay mum, it’s all over now.” Jay confessed to ‘hearing’ and reflecting on her little child’s words much later. To this day, Jay confesses that she’s managed to take the edge off every unfairness with “it’s okay mum, it’s all over now.”

Following this incidence, I did a little informal research amongst some teachers and parents asking them if they could explain ways in which their children ‘teach’ them to be better teachers and individuals. Below are eight of my findings that I’d like to share with you:

1) Children’s open-mindedness and curiosity – are worthy of emulation. Children make friends more quickly than adults do. It is possible that our life-experiences which we carry about so guardedly continue to cause divisions within our social and professional groups.

2) Children are commonly inquisitive – When a child walks into a room, you’ll notice how they move their butts quickly to the edge of their seats and begin to look about for something to play with or investigate. Have you lost your ability to research, investigate, create, innovate as a teacher? Why are your lessons so dull and bland?

3) Children are usually restive – Most children are unable to remain still, silent or submissive. Typically, children dash about the house, not walk; skip and hop as they walk home from school; chase friends or a cat or chicken or a dog on the way to or from school. Children’s natural inclination to be active is what some teachers and parents told me they find admirable. Every adult must stay active to maintain their cardio-vascular, muscles, organs and lung health.

4) Children are courageous – A child does not need to be terminally ill for you to see how oblivious they seem to be of a bad situation they might be in. This is very much due to their lack of experience in life lessons. Nonetheless, teachers, parents and everyone of us must imitate childlike courage. We must prayerfully rise above the confines of our fears of failure, humiliation or unfair criticisms.

5) Children show you their plasters, scars, casts… A child with a sore finger or dressing, a POP or an adaptive equipment would quickly show it off to an adult. This is their way of telling you how brave they’ve been. Give such a child some moments to tell you how they acquired it and you’d find self-confidence and self-esteem popping. The character worth copying here is self-confidence. Many adults slip into self-deprecation and remain there because they want to be accepted by someone or a group of people they’ve unknowingly idolized.

6) Children don’t live in yesterday – As soon as daylight comes up most children are bustling with gusto again, most children are seeking new knowledge and opportunities. A respondent told me that this is the most admirable character she respects in children. We must begin to make everyday a fresh opportunity to create moments that would live in our subconscious. All memories are momentous moments we gathered along the way. An aggregate of these make us declare life to be good or bad.

7) Children make creative pursuits – As teachers, we commonly find our children calling out to each other, “…come let’s…” during group work or playtime. These are usually summons to strategize, organize, predict, implement, observe or evaluate their work or activities. You can’t afford to dull out as a teacher or parent. If you dull out, you will get left behind. You must make effort to move on and do the best you can.

8) Children don’t usually harbour prejudices or biases – A prejudice is a preconceived hostile, sinister, unreasonable opinion, thought, attitude or feelings towards someone or something. A prejudice is never based on enough knowledge, experience, reasoning or thought. A bias is only a touch lighter. It refers to a usually unfair partiality or inclination for or against a person, group or idea. Until you pass on your own prejudices and biases to your children, they will work and play with no inhibitions.

Omoru writes from the UK