7 May 2013

Visual Aids and Teaching

           “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.The great teacher inspires.”
                                                                 ― William Arthur Ward

Teaching is an essential part of the life of every human. Whether at home or at school, or on the streets, one can safely say every human being has been taught in one form or the other. The process of imparting knowledge is indeed a never ending one. As a child, knowledge is imparted to one from parents, and then trained teachers. As we evolve, we begin to impart knowledge in one way or the other in a bid to share what we know. The focal point of this write up however is the profession of teaching as it affects the growth of the Nigerian child/youth.

The methodology employed by teachers to impart knowledge, and how this aids in the development of young minds. 

 In the average Nigerian school, a teacher is the first point of contact between the student and the knowledge he hopes to acquire. As a primary school student, i saw teachers as "all-knowing". The teacher knows everything, and as such, it was pertinent to listen attentively in class while the teacher taught.I remember we used to have a cassette player in class, and whenever our teacher wanted us to learn a new rhyme, she played it for us to sing along. Rhymes such as "Polly put the Kettle On" and "Black Sheep" were taught using the cassette player as a teaching aid; these aspects of my education i would never forget. The teacher also made frequent use of the blackboard to disseminate knowledge, so as to make it easy for the average student to take down notes and learn.

The blackboard is indeed an essential teaching aid, as it is one of the oldest aid used by teachers to impart knowledge to their students. These days one wonders how children are taught in schools today. Except for the handful of private schools that make sure their curriculum is interactive enough to engage the student, it seems teachers no longer take the pains to teach children. Most times, when you interact with the average child that attends a public primary school, such a child has little or no knowledge of these basic things every child should know.
 Teaching Aids are an essential part of teaching. From the chalkboard, to the cassette player, to the interactive videos, teaching aids should be embraced as an important aspect of teaching in Nigeria. In majority of the government funded schools in the country today, teaching aids have been all but relegated to the background. In most cases, you find that teachers altogether abandon even the use of the chalkboard and resort to mere dictation of most times outdated notes to students. In worse cases, the teacher seldom appears in class during his/her time slot, and usually sends for the class captain to take notes to be copied by a student on the board. 

Lets not forget that the essence of teaching is really not in the notes taken, but the efforts of the teacher in imparting the knowledge contained in those texts in the most memorable ways possible. As a student of Literature in my secondary school days, Mr. Nwosu's class was always an interesting one. He would make jokes about different characters in a text we were reading, and would most times join us when we acted out scenes from our texts. He also organized a viewing of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, which made the text easy to understand. The truth is, these days, students are really not interested in reading rather lengthy texts, they would only take down the notes in class, pack up their books and head home. If one were to ask a secondary school student to give a brief summary of what he/she had learned in school the previous day, one would often than not be met with a blank stare.

 Visual Aids for teaching remains one of the methods of teaching that has not been fully explored in Nigerian schools (especially government funded schools). Asides the chalkboard which is an age old visual aid, other technologically based visual aids are not explored by teachers in their quest to impart knowledge in their students. I would blame this on the training given to teachers in their various teacher training colleges. It is high time our teachers are equipped with up to date training in their profession. Teachers should be taught how to get students more involved in learning with the use of what i would call  "21st century compliant" methods. Film shows and documentaries are one of the less-explored methods of imparting knowledge in schools in Nigeria. In my opinion, as several surveys have pointed out, people react more to what they see and are not quick to forget such. In teaching subjects that seem rather difficult for students to comprehend, teachers should make use of more interactive methods, using visual aids to pass their message across.

It really is disheartening to find out that some students fail a particular topic not because they are dull, but because their teachers do not take out time to exhaust every method there is to make sure that their students completely understand the subject. Using visual aids makes the student remember what was taught in class, asides from that, it makes the classroom lively and interesting, as students would freely comment on what they have seen in the course of a lecture. The school curriculum in Nigerian schools should be adapted to include interactive sessions between the teacher and students, using visual aids in the form of filmshows, documentaries, and the likes to impart knowledge. There is the growing need to reduce the number of students that fail certain subjects/courses in school, and using visual aids could help in no small measure to achieve this.

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