Teacher’s Diary

Lately at work, we’ve been thinking about mental health and how to stay mentally healthy. Mental retention and recall has been a subject we’re simply crushing on in order to conquer memory loss! The trio of us – ‘the thinkers’ – are in our early fifties and menopausal. Memory loss is one common variable that reminds middle-aged men and women that menopause IS! So we’re using post-its’; PC pop-ups; acronyms and initialism to help us remember things better.

Unfortunately a large chunk of Nigerian students are not doing well in class these days. Mr. Bamidele Omotosho in a Vanguard News Nigeria article in April 2015 found a reason for this. Aina Jacob Kola has also uploaded another interesting read titled ‘Improving Students’ Academic Performance in Nigerian Schools: the Role of Teachers’. But you only need to take a simple look around you and speak to you neighbors to realise that underperformance in academic work is currently trending! Streaming social media is replacing study and robbing students of retention and recall.

In today’s world, teenagers are saying that they feel addicted to their mobile phones. Check out ‘Teens say they’re addicted to technology. Here’s how parents can help.’ (The Washington Post May 2016). Take a good look around you, are today’s parents themselves able to put their own mobiles down for a while? Isn’t there now an addiction to mobiles gaining grounds in Nigeria to the detriment of focus and rigorous study? It is time to reboot and change the game.

Let’s look at what can be done to rectify this problem?

Set the child your boundary defining mobile times during the day, tutor time or school hours. Aim to achieve a healthy balance of study hours and social media hours. Ensure you check the ratings on programmes and channels your children visit, be familiar with the subscriptions you’re paying for. Don’t just give the money to your teenager to go and pay the dues. Rather, know what they have paid for and how to navigate those channels and buttons!

Make friends with your child or student. If you approach them with harshness or high handedness, they will never tell you everything. If they do you will hear only quarter-truths or half-truths if you’re lucky! If you let then question you or tell you what randomly popped up on their mobiles, you would be having loads of advantages to teach, correct, approve of, or disapprove of what they are seeing, reading, streaming or watching. The media is not always evil, rather the media is benign or innocuous. The days of being simply a ‘caning and flogging disciplinarian’ are over. It didn’t totally pay our parents to have been like that. The times we are in now begs for a different approach to parenting which basically is loving firmness.

It’s no use taking out the speck in your child or students eyes whilst you have logs in yours. Demonstrate being not so attached to your own mobile or to the social media. Role-model putting your devices away or turning them off during family times, during dinner times, whilst in church or your own worship assemblies and before going to bed. Remember that calls can always be returned and texts can always be replied. Why all of a sudden is mobile technology rubbing us all of individual personal time for reflection, soberness and introspection?

It is not quite easy to know those moments when your child begins to show the evidence of their adoptions of new ways of thinking, lifestyle, language and behavior. However if you are your child’s friend, you will quickly observe significant negative behaviors they are demonstrating as a result of the influence modern technology and media is having on them. You will begin to see that the relationships they are forming with friends, classmates and relationships are breaking; that they are showing signs of psychological and forms of mental Illnesses; that they are underperforming academically and that they are breaking the boundaries you and their teachers have set. Be ye watchful and reconstructive. Never give up on your children.

Omoru writes from the UK