The past 3 months have been some of the very best of my entire conscious life, one that has already redefined the rest of my life. It’s been Teaching Practice, one of the 15 courses whose requirements I must fully fulfill to bag a post graduate diploma in education, PGDE. While the entire PGDE programme on its own is a fat story, I’m choosing to streamline the gist to TP.
It was an amazing experience for me. Because of my passion for excellence, and facilitated by Ma’am Uzor, I got myself one of the elite schools in town. The particularly beautiful thing about this experience was that it pushed me, it challenged me, it transfigured me, and, then, repositioned me. It pushed me because the set of of rules I was to abide by needed me to go the extra mile. It challenged me because my students were always on me to deliver; they were of an uncommon breed. It transfigured me because my views about a number of things changed; radical change, I mean. It repositioned me because the ensuing change in mentality set me on a new pedestal.
More so, the different categories of people I encountered there impacted on the different areas of my life that needed a touch of betterment. For instance, my students and supervisors turned me from student-teacher to full-fledged teacher, the management turned me into a promising administrator, and my colleagues, who were predominantly family people, exposed me to “Home Economics 101.” To say the least, it was an awesome experience.
Not so, not so for Mrs. Okafor. According to her, “It was a terrible experience.” It was a terrible experience because she practiced teaching in a system where things have fallen apart, where it has collapsed. Where the students are wild, where the management is nonchalant, where the teachers are burdened by inferiority complex, where the teaching and learning and living (boarding house) facilities are terrible, to say the least.
She especially recounted a particularly embarrassing experience. She had walked into the classroom in a flat shoe, and after minutes into her period (teaching, I mean) she felt cold and heavy in her legs. Guess what had happened? She didn’t particularly notice that the classroom was flooded and that she had been swimming in it all along, and because she’d lose her pair of fine shoes if she attempted to walk back to the car in it, she resorted to the only thought that came to her mind, “Pick it up and walk barefooted to the car.” It took the intervention of one of her students who walked up to her with a pair of slippers while she was already on her way to the car on barefoot.
She told other stories to the effect that it was a terrible experience; an eye-opener experience. We can already begin to imagine what the future holds for girls who lack basic training, who’d dig it out with one another at the slightest provocation. We can also begin to imagine what the future holds for girls with raw and unbridled tongues, tongues that wag with the frequency of an excited dog’s tail. We can, more so, begin to imagine what the future holds for all of us; we must all be affected in one way or the other. Of course, we can already see that the Niger Delta Avengers are frustrating the effort of the Harvard-schooled NNPC boss, Ibe Kachikwu. “At the end of the day,” according to Lawrence Onukwube, “the poor can’t sleep because they’re hungry and the rich can’t sleep because the poor are awake.”
We must all renew our commitment to qualitative, meaningful and functional education. It is not only right and just, it is a duty, plus our collective future squarely depends on it.