THE VALUE OF A TEACHER…

With the recent teachers strike, it got me thinking about the value of a teacher to a nation.

Education is the greatest way to build a nation; therefore a teacher provides a very important service. Imagine the task of training a child from baby class to read, spell and write. I am not sure I could have the patience for that.

A student’s success is the pride of the teacher.

Primary school teaching is the single most important profession in the world. A teacher passes on knowledge and values to children, prepares them for further education and for working life and are a main contributor to good education. This profession however in the recent times has not received the recognition it deserves.

In the past the teaching profession was highly regarded and a primary school teacher was well respected in the society. I strongly believe that teachers must love their career in order for them to pass enthusiasm, to assist and provide a warm environment to the students. I also regard teachers as “second parents” as they spend a lot of time with the students. In addition, years of experience and training in the field make a real teacher.

Kenya as a developing country has not done much to improve the situation. It is unfortunate that many citizens are no longer motivated to take up the profession as a result of low and poor remuneration. This has resulted in poor motivation and has in turn lowered the quality of education delivered to our children.

Teachers are one of the main pillars of a sound and progressive society. They bear the weight and responsibility of teaching, and, apart from parents, are the main source of knowledge and values for children. The younger years of a child form the very foundation of the life ahead hence the saying you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

To attain the goal of universal and good education, teaching has to become an attractive profession again. The books, the pencil, the pen and the black board are important, and so are the chairs to sit on, but if there is no motivated teacher in front of the chairs, if there is no teacher to write on the blackboard and to teach reading, math and how to pick up knowledge and values, the goal will never be achieved.   

Sometimes a teacher’s caring attitudes could have a long positive or negative influence on students. John Maxwell and Jim Dornan in their book “ Becoming a person of influence”, tell a story of students who had worked so hard on a new mathematics concept all week hence become frustrated and edgy. The teacher in the classroom realized that she needed to stop the crankiness before it got out of hand. So she asked each student to list the names of other students in class ,under each name they were to leave a space in which they were required to write the nicest  thing(s) they could say about each other. At the end of the lesson each student submitted their list. The teacher then wrote down the name of each student on separate pieces of paper and listed what everyone had written about that individual. On Monday she handed each student their paper. Some of them ran two pages. Before long the entire class was smiling. “Really? I never knew that meant anything to anyone!” “I didn’t know others liked me so much!”

The group of students moved on. Several years later, the teacher attended a funeral for one of her former students, Mark who had died in Vietnam in combat.

She describes how the church was packed with Mark’s friends. After the service Mark’s parents approached her enquiring if she was once his maths teacher as he had spoken fondly about her. They then presented a piece of paper that had been torn, taped, folded and refolded many times. It was obviously familiar to her. When Mark had died, they had found the paper in his wallet. His classmates started to gather and began to confess how they still had their pieces of paper with them. That’s a teacher who left a mark.

 

A teacher moulds the next teacher, doctor, Member of Parliament, chief Executive Officer and other powerful positions. Due to the success of teaching we gain increased knowledge and expertise in various fields.

In September, 1997, while in my first year of high school, the first teachers’ strike was declared. We were forced to go home for one month. At first we were excited that we had an extended vacation but after a week, I suppose the excitement died and reality hit. By the time school resumed there was so much reading and learning to do with so little time and exams around the corner.

15 years later, the syndrome is back. Teachers have downed their tools for the same reason, poor pay, and empty unfulfilled promises. I think that this profession has seriously been taken for granted. Have priorities become misplaced?

It is clear that the decision makers have missed the value of the TEACHER!

 

References: Callezee.net & Csun.edu

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