(By Adeoye Oyewole)

I write this topic with a feeling of nostalgia because my parents (now late) were teachers. They were part of the professional teachers of yester-years.

I can recollect vividly how my mother instructed us sternly never to attempt to change the handedness of my younger brother from left to right because it could affect his academic performance. She professionally justified her counsel from the principle of handedness in psychology of education.

On getting to medical school and postgraduate training in psychiatry, I came across the same principle. I was excited, but at the same time, challenged, at the professional dexterity that my mum, an elementary school teacher, demonstrated confidently.

I can also remember her words of caution concerning another sibling that had a little challenge executing his speech as a result of stuttering. She counselled that all he needed was our patience in listening to him, even as he was coached on how he could calmly pick his words.

I am currently doing the National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna, programme in post-graduate diploma in education and my encounter with their syllabus brings sweet memories of my mother and respect for her professionalism.

The first semester has taken us through the history of education, developmental psychology, general methods in education, curriculum design and development, measurement and evaluation, educational psychology, philosophy of education, research methods in education, sociology in education, statistical method in education and micro-teaching.

Despite my background in psychiatry, I find the course illuminating, as I discovered practical lessons of intelligent application of psychological principles in the arena of learning. As I read through the modules which have been prepared by competent academicians, I saw that the future of this country lies with our teachers.

Prof. B.O. Ukeje defines education as any influence that produces a change in the physical and mental behaviour of human beings. Education is also defined as the process by which every society attempts to preserve and upgrade the accumulated knowledge skills and attitude in its natural setting and heritage, in order to foster continuously the well-being of mankind and guarantee its survival against the unpredictable attacks of hostile and destructive elements and forces of man and nature. This qualifies education as a cornerstone of meaningful development of any nation.

Sociologists define education as a process by which the individual acquires physical, moral and social capacities demanded of him by the group into which he is born and must function. This process articulates education as the most effective tool of socialisation.

Psychology of education empowers the teacher to creatively use various theories of cognitive, emotional and social development to understand the learner and to adopt an appropriate teaching methodology. Teaching is not just a hobby; it is an intensely professional endeavour such that when a teacher picks up a topic, he should bring out some desirable changes in the pupils’ behaviour. He, therefore, needs to focus on those aspects of the pupils’ behaviour in which he wants these changes to occur. They are referred to as instructional and behavioural objectives. When the instructional objective is stated in terms of observable learner’s behaviour, we call it behavioural or lesson objective, and it deals with the three dimensions of man where learning takes place, namely: the cognitive, the affective and the psychomotor domains.

With all of our improved an imported curricular, the emphasis has been largely on the cognitive. I think our teachers need a renewed emphasis on how to define measurable behavioural objectives with special concerns for the affective domain that include attitude, values, feelings and emotions.

Recent findings have demonstrated the superiority of emotional intelligence over the basic intelligence quotient for career success and ultimate outcome in life. Drug addiction is getting to an alarmingly scaring dimension, and the age of initiation is as low as nine years.

The consequences are grave, as it affects human capital development, security and economic wellbeing of the nation. The family unit has become dysfunctional as a result of socio-economic problems; hence, the primary agency of socialisation is faulty.

The school, therefore, becomes the custodian of children with psychological challenges, especially drug addiction. The wholesome socialization strategies through the teachers are equally challenged by the peer group, which boasts of alternative but destructive templates of socialization.

I am not certain that our modern and very expensive schools have the crucial emphasis in the affective and the psychomotor domains of learning in their curriculum as a strategy of stemming the menace of drug addiction that has assumed ubiquitous dimension with grave consequences.

I wonder what has become of our guidance and counselling teachers of yester-years who should be able to set up a ‘psychological clinic’ for students who exhibit anti-social behavioural patterns. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

Culled from punchng.com